Today, the work camp of SVIT Ukraine has begun at the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). 14 young people will clean the cemetery of shrubs and vines for the next three weeks. I met the volunteers this morning. In the early afternoon I was searching of traces of the old Jewish cemetery together with Sylvia de Swaan. A little adventure!
This morning at 9 I met the volunteers at the Jewish cemetery. First impressions: This is again a great bunch of young people. Nearly two hours I walked with them through the cemetery to show them what is to see there. We were accompanied by Sylvia de Swaan, who originates from Czernowitz and now lives in America. Sylvia will make photo portraits of the volunteers.
While the volunteers start to work, get used to the tools and search for an effective way of working for the group, Sylvia, SVIT boss Julia and I have a short lunch break. Julia uses the break to successfully organize a bus for our trip on Sunday. Then Sylvia and I have something special in mind: We are looking for traces of the old Jewish cemetery, which was in use until 1866 and was in the old Jewish quarter of the city.
The search for the remains of the cemetery turns out to be more difficult than expected. The factory area, in which we search, is a labyrinth of backyards. I am glad that no one cares for us. We try to act as inconspicuously as possible. I finally discover what we are looking for: A wall that consists of stacked grave stones. Sylvia starts a conversation with one of the workers while I climb around. The man has worked in Portugal and Sylvia speaks excellent Spanish. Two workers disappear in the bushes on a steep slope and begin tearing out shrubs and vines. Four fragments of grave stones come to light. Sylvia and I climb up and are happy to have found what we are looking for. The workers help us down again. We have good reason to thank them! Really nice guys!
This afternoon I’m going to guide the participants of the youth exchange, which takes place at the same time, through Jewish Czernowitz. Then I will meet the volunteers for dinner. The first day in Czernowitz is great!
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