The last part of my journey with the German TV team began on 30 August in Mohyliv-Podilskyi, took us on to Chernivtsi – finally a reunion with one of my favourite places! – and back to Lviv. On the way back, we made short stops in Halych and Burshtyn.
On the morning of 30 August, Ella, the chairperson of the Jewish community, picked us up in front of our hotel. Accompanying her were Misha and Frida, whose parents were survivors of the Mohyliv ghetto. What they wanted to show us is a small museum that documents the history of the ghetto and the Holocaust. It is one of the very few Holocaust museums in Ukraine. Listening to Misha and Frida was a moving experience. Both lost parts of their family in the Holocaust. Both had to adapt to the new Soviet conditions after the war. Despite all adversities, Jewish life continues in Mohyliv. Proof of this is the new synagogue that stands not far from the market, which was shown to us by Ella, Misha and Frida at the end of our stay.
The next day we continued to Chernivtsi. It’s been three and a half years since I was last there. And for three and a half years I thought of this city and what connects me to it almost every day. Every summer for 10 years, I supported volunteers who worked in the Jewish cemetery, helping to clear it of rampand vegetation. At the end of our stay, I visited the cemetery and found it in comparatively good condition. The fact that initiatives are always working there despite the Corona pandemic is obviously good for the cemetery. The condition today is incomparably better than in 2008, the year of the first work camp.
The TV team interviewed Menachem Mendel Glitsenshtain, the rabbi of the synagogue community, and Mykola Kushnir, the director of the Jewish museum. Both have done remarkable things for the Jewish heritage of Chernivtsi and I was very happy to see them again, healthy and energetic.
On 3 September, we drove back to Lviv. We made a short stop in Halych and Burshtyn and what we found there is perhaps exemplary of the impressions of this trip. The Karaite cemetery in Halych is still in good and well-kept condition. The beit midrash in Burshtyn, on the other hand, was largely demolished at the behest of the municipality at the beginning of January 2019. Only a sad remnant remains, looking out into the world with empty eyes.
This trip made me happy for three reasons. Finally, I was able to travel in Ukraine again. Finally I met my long-time fellow travelers – Vasyl, Marla, Jay, Iryna and Anna – again. And maybe the trip and the TV documentary that will come out of it will help raise awareness of the Jewish heritage of Western Ukraine in Europe. I hope so and I am curious to see what the final edited documentary will look like. Thank you Susanne Brahms, Rainer Krause of Bremen based Blind Cat Documentary and cameraman Matthias Kind for your efforts!
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