En Route with the Volunteers of SVIT Ukraine

A cemetery clean-up is not only about work. Volunteers who joined SVIT Ukraine’s annual ‘workcamp’ to clean the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) also have the opportunity to learn about the multi-ethnic past and present of western Ukraine, make friends and have fun. Yesterday, we went for an excursion to Jewish heritage sites in Kosiv, Kuty and Vyzhnytsia – and had a pick-nick next to the scenic village of Sheshory.

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Exploring Chernivtsi with Friends and Volunteers

Both, SVIT Ukraine and Action Reconciliation for Peace have started their annual clean-up in the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). Despite the hot weather the volunteers bravely remove the rampant vegetation of the cemetery. Being with them is a good pretext to stroll through the beautiful city.

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Inside Jakob Glanzer Shul

Jakob Glanzer Shul is one of the last remaining synagogues in Lviv. The building is in bad condition; an adjuncting wall already collapsed. Since years a young man fights for the preservation of the synagogue. I met him today.

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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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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.

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SVIT Ukraine’s work-camp in Chernivti (Czernowitz) has begun

The annual work-camp by SVIT Ukraine to clean the Jewish cemetery of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) of rampant vegetation has begun today. It is already the 9th work-camp since 2008. Young people from all over Europe and from Japan (!) came together to work during the next two weeks together. It was my pleasure to meet them today.

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Through Bukovina and Galicia with the Volunteers

Meanwhile, I’m back home and still have to report the latest events of the recent journey. On Friday – our last day in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) – Arthur and I have been on a day trip through Bukovina and Galicia with the volunteers of SVIT Ukraine. Vashkivtsi, Vyzhnytsia (Wischnitz), Kuty and Kosiv were the places we went to.

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Hard-working volunteers, sleepy cats

It’s hot in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), every day over 30 degrees Celsius. The volunteers of SVIT Ukraine and Action Reconciliation start working in the Jewish cemetery early in the morning to escape the heat. Today they were lucky, in the morning it was cloudy, even some rain came down.

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Voices from the past

Yesterday, my friend Silke drew my attention to a sound installation that was designed by students of Chernivtsi University in the former Synagogengasse (Synagogue Alley, now Anri Barbyusa Street) of Chernivtsi (Czernowitz). It brought voices of the past into the present of the city. Today, the volunteers of Action Reconciliation and SVIT Ukraine have begun their work in the Jewish cemetery.

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Finally in Czernowitz

It is already our third travel day. Arthur Rindner – an old time Czernowitzer – and I met on Friday at Vienna’s airport and flew to Lviv / Lemberg. Now we are already in Czernowitz and have met the international volunteer group that will work in the next two weeks in the Jewish cemetery.

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