On April 18, my friends and I came back home from our trip to Bukovina. What happened between the last blog post on April 15, and our return, I still have to report. At the end of this journey I also have to thank some people – my friends Petra and Achim and my virtual fellow travelers who have commented, offered advice and shared memories. We’ll meet again – on the next trip!
It was a gray day in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) today. For three hours I went for a walk in the Jewish cemetery – a place which speaks about one and a half centuries of life of one of the most important Jewish communities in eastern Europe. There is good news to report, the situation has improved since my visit last summer. Most of the ways and pathes are cleared and accessible. Large parts of the cemetery have been cleaned – and this was done very thorough and sustainable. The various initiatives to maintain the cemetery finally have an effect. But now the destructions of the past are getting visible. A new challenge.
In the morning we gave back our rental car and left Southern Bukovina and Romania by bus. Since some hours we are now in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) in Ukraine. It was a day without any particular discoveries, which would be worth to report here. Arriving in Czernowitz after so many returns is like coming home. With my friends Petra and Achim I had a walk through the historic city center and like every time we were charmed by the beauty of the place.
Many of you followed my wanderings through Galicia and Bukovina and I’m grateful to you and your comments. With me was my old camera; I took photos whenever I was travelling in the last two years. Classic black and white photography. Thanks to the Rhineland Regional Association I’m now able to publish some of my photos as a book.
The editors of “Die Stimme” (The Voice)–the monthly bulletin of the Bukovinian Jews–were recently so kind to publish my report on this year’s work-camp of SVIT Ukraine to clear the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). Even today, “Die Stimme” is published in German in Israel. It moves me every time when I pull a new edition out of my letter box. But it also has the disadvantage that many can not read the articles any more. Therefore, here is an English translation of my report.
A day without great events. A last walk through Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) and then an eight hours bus ride with the marshrutka to Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg).
Today I was traveling with the volunteers who work at the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). Kosiv, Kuty and Vyzhnytsia (Wischnitz) were on the schedule. A journey through Hasidic wonderland. A wonderland that only exists in memories.
The Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) is an enchanted garden. In his jungle you meet lions, deer, blessing hands, and people who are long gone. This morning I had some time to explore it once again. Even after many visits, it is a fascinating place to me. The cemetery tells of rise and fall of Jewish Czernowitz. I spent the afternoon with the volunteers of SVIT Ukraine who work in the cemetery.
Today I have met the volunteers of SVIT Ukraine who work in the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), to clear it of rampant vegetation. It is a miracle that this workcamp takes place. Many people are afraid to come to Ukraine because of the war in the east of the country. And SVIT faced big challenges. The organization has its headquarters in Artemovsk, which was temporarily occupied by “separatists”. The infrastructure had to be moved to Kharkiv, bank accounts registered in Artemovsk were temporarily closed. The by Russia stirred up war has an impact on Ukrainian civil society and on the opportunities of young people for international exchange.
It is always nice to meet Czernowitzers in Czernowitz (Chernivtsi) – old and young! Stories are exchanged, old stories, new stories, wishes and hopes for the future.