Kos – a Jewish community in the Aegean Sea

The Corona pandemic has changed my life – like that of many others. I worked from home for over half a year. What hit me hardest: I couldn’t travel. In the first half of October, however, a time window opened up. I traveled to Greece with two friends – first to Athens, then on to the island of Nisyros. On the way back we had half a day to explore Kos – once the home of a Jewish community.

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There is still a lot to tell

Galicia, Kyiv, Greece and some exhibitions. There is still a lot to tell about the past year. The forced break caused by the corona virus gives me the opportunity to do it.

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From Kolomyia eastwards and back to Lviv

My friends and I continued our trip through Galicia in Ukraine on February 23. We started our day in Kolomyia and headed east to Horodenka and then towards Zolotyi Potik. Jewish heritage sites in Hvizdets, Chernelytsia, Zabolotiv and Obertyn were along the way.

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From Lviv to Kolomyia

Last weekend my friends and I traveled through Galicia in Ukraine again – this time south of Lviv. The first day of the trip took us to Kolomyia. Along the way were Jewish cemeteries in Mykulychyn, Lanchyn, Pechenizhyn, Yabluniv and Zabolotiv.

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Towards the Carpathian Mountains

During the carnival, I fled my hometown Cologne for a week and traveled to Ukraine. For three days, I was on the road with friends. On February 20, our route led us to Medenychi, Opory, Rivne (Königsau), Skole, Lysiatychi, Lavochne and Rozhniativ.

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Nothingness and a Ray of Hope

Trochenbrod is internationally known due to Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel “Everything is illuminated” and its Hollywood adaption. Like in the novel, nothing is left of this former all-Jewish town. My friends and I were out there for an excursion on 22 June. On the way back to Lviv we had stops in Lutsk, Stoyaniv and Radekhiv. If you are depressed by the nothingness of Trochenbrod, in Radekhiv you can find a ray of hope.

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The talking stones of Regensburg

Despite its destruction in 1519, the traces of Regensburg’s medieval Jewish community are still there. They can be found along the streets and backyards: tombstones of the Jewish cemetery.

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From Nyasvizh back to Minsk

April 27, nearly a month ago, was the last day of our road trip through the west of Belarus. With detours left and right of the Brest-Minsk highway we visited the towns of Nyasvizh, Garadeya, Mir, Turets, Stowbtsy, Novy Sverzhan, Rubezhevichy and Dzerzhinsk (formerly Koydanava). One place stands out: Mir with its synagogues and other former Jewish institutions in the town center.

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From Slonim to Nyasvizh

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.

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From Brest to Slonim

Day 7 of our 9 days road trip through the west of Belarus brought us on 25 April finally to the town of Slonim. For all of us – Achim, Petra, Juliana and me – it was one of the highligts of the entire journey. Not much compares to the beauty of the Great Synagogue. En route were more heritage sites in Kobryn and Byten, but also sad places – mass killing sites – in Smolyarka and Bronnaya Gara.

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