My friends and I continued our journey through the west of Belarus on 26 April. Again, this question came into our minds: what happens to Jewish heritage sites, when there is no or just a small Jewish community left? Others make use of these places and reshape them. We found such transformed landmarks in the towns of Molchad, Novaya Mysh, Baranavichy and Lyakhavichy. But we also found well preserved and maintained heritage sites and memorials in some of the mentioned towns and additionally in Kletsk and Kapyl.
In the morning of 26 April we returned to Slonim to take more pictures of the outstanding Great Synagogue. It would have been just to bad to leave without pictures of its front facade in the morning light.
We went on to the town of Molchad. What was once a beit midrash or synagogue there, is now an ordinary residential building. There is also a a former Jewish bakery, which is for sale. Centrally located in town is a Soviet war memorial. Plaques with a shockingly long list of fallen soldiers is added to it. Out of town in a forest, a memorial has been errected on the site, where Molchad’s Jews had been murdered.
Nearly now traces of the Jewish cemetery can be found in Novaya Mysh. We found a single tombstone at a place, which is now a public park. The former synagogue is now a supermarket.
When coming into Baranavichy, Juliana brought us first to a place, wich the locals know as the ‘green bridge’. It was a mass killing site as well as a deportation point. There is also a ghetto memorial in the town center. The Great Synagogue is now a residental building, the former yeshiva a sports club, a second yeshiva another residental building. The Jewish cemetery was destroyed and finally was turned into a park by Baranavichy Jewish survivors and their descendents from Israel and the world.
One of the most disturbing places we found in the town of Lyakhavichy. I can’t say when the Jewish cemetery was destroyed – maybe one of the readers of this post knows more. Today the territory is occupied by a motodrome – the most inappropriate usage I can imagine.
The towns of Kletsk and Kapyl brought us back to better mood. Both Jewish cemeteries are well maintained and the one in Kapyl is in particular beautiful. And, voilá, in Kapyl there is also a plaque for Mendele Mocher Sforim, one of the giants of Yiddish literature!
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I enjoyed traveling with you yesterday. I cannot resist noting here that my family are from Lyakovici. I have records back to the late 18th c. The motodrome is extremely difficult to see.