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.
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.
Since six years volunteers from all over the world work in the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). What do they experience and what is the progress in cleaning the cemetery from rampant vegetation?
Sunday is a free day for the volunteers who clear the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) of shrubs and vines. Today, an excursion is on the agenda. Vashkivtsi, Vyzhnytsia, Kosiv, Storozhynets and the local Jewish cemeteries.
Today, the work camp of SVIT Ukraine has begun at the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). 14 young people will clean the cemetery of shrubs and vines for the next three weeks. I met the volunteers this morning. In the early afternoon I was searching of traces of the old Jewish cemetery together with Sylvia de Swaan. A little adventure!
Cologne – Vienna – Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg), Austrian Airlines brought me and my friends Ingo and Sabine safely to Ukraine today. It’s nice to be back, good to know that you will stay at the wonderful Hotel George, nice to know that you are welcome there. The first thing we tried to do: buy train tickets. Tomorrow afternoon we hopefully continue to Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). There are unforeseen problems with the train reservations, which we hope to solve tomorrow.
SVIT Ukraine, the Ukrainian branch of Service Civil International (SCI), and Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) will perform work-camps in the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) in summer and autumn 2013. For both work-camps one can still apply. Join the volunteers!
Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) expects 13 to 15 volunteers for a summer camp from September 26 to October 8 in Chernivtsi (former Czernowitz). Participants in the age of 40+ will not only work but also explore the history of the city.