Mizoch and the Emptiness

Mizoch (Mizocz) is a small town in Volhynia. The population was composed of Ukrainians, Poles and Jews – until World War II. The scars of the past are still visible in Mizoch; the town’s center remained half empty until the present day.

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Some Summer Black and Whites

After working a lot on my colour photos I finally found time to return to the analogue black and whites. Here is a selection of images I took in August during the trip to Ukraine and Moldova. Represented are Jewish cemeteries in Chişinău (Kishinev), Orhei and Vadul-Raşcov (Vadul Rashkov) in Bessarabia/Moldova, cemeteries in Rîbniţa (Rybnitsa) and Raşcov (Rashkov) in the break away “state” of Transnistria, as well as the former synagogue of Sniatyn in Galicia, Ukraine.

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Vanished World 2017 Calendar For Free Download

Hanukkah and Christmas are coming closer – a time of gifts in which I would like to give a present to all who accompanied my trips through Eastern Europe’s Jewish past and present. A calendar for 2017 with some of my photos is out now for free download. You may produce it on your own printer or at an on-line store of your choice. The calendar consits of photos from Jewish heritage sites in Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and Romania. Enjoy and have a great 2017!

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Vadul-Raşcov Jewish cemetery: Little is known, all is visible

Vadul-Raşcov (Vadul-Rashkov) in Bessarabia is one of the most impressive Jewish cemeteries I have ever seen. There are a few hundred, if not a few thousand gravestones, located on a hill sloping to the banks of river Dniester. This is borderland – in many aspects.

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Yom Kippur in Ioannina

My Cousin Vangelis and I are travelling in Epirus in the north-west of Greece. High up in the Pindos mountains, Ioannina – the regional capital – is located. The trip gave me a unique opportunity to join the Yom Kippur service in the local synagogue and to learn more about one of the most outstanding Jewish communities in Europe.

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Compiling a new exhibition

My first photo exhibitions about the Jewish heritage in Eastern Europe consisted of black and white images. To me black and white is connected to memory and commemoration – maybe because the photos of my childhood are in black and white, but also because most of the historical material preserved is in black and white. My interest in colour photography rose when I understood that heritage sites not only have a past, but also have a present. Synagogues are part of present urban space, a trace of a mezuzah is still visible, farmers let their animals graze in old cemeteries. But also absence is part of the present: cemeteries became markets, whole towns vanished. Having a good part of work already done, it’s a good moment to reflect some of the topics of the new exhibition, which will be shown by the end of January next year for the first time.

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A last Galician excursion

Since today I’m back home, but I have still to report on our last excursion, which led us into the Ukrainian borderlands with Poland, to Velyki Mosty, Belz and Uhniv.

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Galicia from a train window

A last goodbye to the volunteers, who clear the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). A last farewell to Bukovina and its capital. In the afternoon Sylvia and I took the train from Chernivtsi to Lviv. For five and a half hours we watched the beautiful Galician landscape rolling by. Now we are in Lviv – exhausted but happy – and wait for a very last excursion tomorrow.

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Happy birthday Ukraine!

Now both voluntary services – SVIT Ukraine and Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) – are working at the Jewish Cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) to clear it from rampant vegetation. While ARSP started earlier this week, SVIT will end its work-camp by the end of the week. Also volunteers of the Jewish community joined the clean-up. Old time Czernowitzers Mimi Taylor and Sylvia de Swaan visited the volunteers of both groups in the morning.
Today is Ukraine’s Independence Day and people are celebrating in the streets. A good reason to think about the contribution of Ukrainian independence to the preservation of Jewish heritage and rebirth of Jewish life.

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