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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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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From Pruzhany to Brest

In the early afternoon of 24 April, my friends and I reached Brest, one of the biggest cities in Belarus and known for the peace negotiations at the end of World War I and its uncompromising resistance against the invading German forces in World War II. En route were Jewish heritage sites in Pruzhany, Sharashova and Kamienets.

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From Hrodna to Pruzhany

Starting in the morning of April 23 in Hrodna, my friends and I turned south to continue our road trip through the west of Belarus. Join us to visit imposing synagogues, hidden Jewish cemeteries and a haunted house – a former beit midrash – in the towns of Indura, Lunno, Wolpa, Mstibovo, Svislach, Porazava, Lyskava and Ruzhany!

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From Lida to Hrodna

My friends and I continued our Belarus road trip on April 22. From Lida we headed further west until we reached Hrodna (Grodno) in the evening. En route were Jewish heritage sites in Radun, Noviy Dvor, Astryna, Razhanka, Zhaludok and Skidzyel.

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From Ashmyany to Lida

The weather was changing when my friends and I continued our road trip through the west of Belarus on 21 April. It was raining when we started our day with a visit to the magnificent synagogue of Ashmyany. Later, we headed further west to the towns of Halshany, Iwye, Vselyub, Delyatichi, Liubcha, Navahraduk and Dziatlava.

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Between Minsk and Ashmyany

April 20 was the first day of our 9 days road trip through the west of Belarus. My friends Achim, Petra, our guide Juliana and I expolred the towns of Rakaw, Ivyanets, Butkovichi, Valozhyn, Vishneva, Kreva and finally Ashmyany with its synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other heritage sites.

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Vyshnivets and Kremenets

March 6, was the last day of our one week journey through Galicia, Podolia and Bessarabia – Ukraine and Moldova. Actually, it was only a half day as I had to be at Lviv airport at 2 pm to fly home. We got up early to visit Vyshnivets and Kremenets with its Jewish heritage sites – places that were already on our itinerary since the last trip in December 2018.

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