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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

In Chişinău

Chişinău’s Jewish cemetery is the most important witness of the city’s Jewish past. Unfortunately it is in a miserable state – densely overgrown and with rubbish everywhere. Sylvia and I went there today.

Continue reading

To Vadul Raşcov and Orhei

Another intense day. Sylvia and I have been to Vadul Raşcov (Vadul Rashkov) and Orhei in Bessarabia with its amazing Jewish cemeteries. Nothing compares to the Jewish cemetery of Vadul Raşcov at the banks of river Dniester. Here you get in touch with eternity.

Continue reading

Return to Transnistria

Our journey to Ukraine and Moldova goes on. The wish of my friend Sylvia to visit Bessarabia gave me a good pretext to return to Chişinău (Kishinev). While our friends Marla and Jay returned to Lviv yesterday, Sylvia and I took the bus to the Moldovan capital. Today we were out for a long day trip to Transnistria, a break-away ‘state’, only aknowledged by Russia. We visited Dubăsari (Dubasari), Raşcov (Rashkov) and Rîbniţa (Rybnitsa).

Continue reading

Kosiv today

The volunteers of SVIT Ukraine, who clear the Jewish cemetery in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), were out for a day trip today. On the itinerary was among others the Galician town of Kosiv – famous for its local crafts market – and its Jewish cemetery. In the densely overgrown cemetery we met an old man who was mowing grass with a scythe. He had a story to tell.

Continue reading

North of Czernowitz

Sylvia, Marla, Jay and I went for an excursion today, which lead us to Zastavna, Balamutivka and Vikno – all north of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) – as well as to Sniatyn in the west. All of those towns and villages – except Vikno – had Jewish cemeteries, but they are not preserved at every place.

Continue reading

To Sadagora with the Volunteers

The volunteers of SVIT Ukraine continued their work in the Jewish cemetery in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) today. It is hard physical work and after a five hours work-day all were exhausted. But the work-camp is not only about work; it is also about experiencing the multi-ethnic past and present of Bukovina. Today we went to Sadagora – once an important Hasidic court.

Continue reading