Los Angeles native Marla Raucher Osborn has been researching her family history in Rohatyn, now in western Ukraine, for a number of years. She made her first visit there in 2008 and returned almost a dozen times in 2011 while living in nearby L’viv. Her research led to a hands-on project to recover scattered gravestones from Rohatyn’s destroyed Jewish cemeteries.
In the thoughtful essay now posted in the Projects Section of JHE In Focus, Ms. Raucher Osborn reports on the latest visit she and her husband, Jay Osborn, made to Rohatyn, in May 2012 — what they found and the dilemmas that now face them in going forward with their project. Though the details are specific to Rohatyn, the contexts, situations and challenges (from finding funding to deciding “what to do next”) correspond to those facing many other projects aimed at recovering memory and restoring Jewish cemeteries.
Earlier this year, in an essay that was posted in the “Issues” part of JHE’s “In Focus” section,she reflected on the meaning and impact of the process and discoveries, and how tracing family history became this much larger and broader project:
“Future Rohatyn visits suddenly had a clear purpose that had been revealed from the unanticipated revelation of these traces from the past: the headstones. The focus would be—HAD to be—to locate, photograph and document these headstones, and then arrange to move them to one of the former Jewish cemeteries for safekeeping and future study.”
Ms Raucher Osborn and her husband have made extensive photographic documentation of their research trips, and I encourage readers to follow the links to see these pictures (including disturbing images of recovered human remains) at the end of the In Focus post.
We encourage comments from others who are engaged in similar projects!