A second roundtable of activists, Jewish representatives, NGOs, and local government officials has been held in Lviv to discuss cooperation and strategies on Jewish cultural heritage preservation and research in parts of western Ukraine.
Titled “Saving Jewish Cultural Heritage” and held at the offiice of the Honorary Consul of Israel, the December 11 meeting was a follow-up to a first such session in February.
JHE friend Marla Raucher Osborn, of the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage project, took part in the meeting and has posted a lengthy report on it on the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage web site— we are drawing on that report for this post. We encourage to you see her full report for full details.
She writes that a key topic of discussion for this session “was cooperation between activists to advance Jewish heritage projects in the region in 2018.” Also discussed was how to involve descendants and foreign visitors in heritage projects and tap into the growing interest in Jewish heritage tourism to the region.
There were 20 roundtable participants, including representatives of city and regional governments, an Israeli Jewish leader with roots in the region, members of the Lviv Jewish community, local and regional activists and volunteer organizations, local filmmakers, and staff from the All Ukrainian Jewish Charitable Foundation “Hesed-Arieh” of Lviv, one of the co-organizers of the event.
Presentations were made by activists in the cities of Dobromyl, Lviv, Lutsk, and Rohatyn (all of whom attended the first roundtable in February), and by new participants from Radekhiv, Rudky, and Stryi. Each discussed the history of their local Jewish heritage projects, accomplishments and setbacks in 2017, and plans for 2018. Introductory remarks were made by administrative representatives of the City of Lviv and the Lviv Oblast.
The group discussed collective goals and proposals for follow-up actions. These included:
— publishing in yearbook form a collection of the projects presented at the roundtable, including contact information, “how-to” advice, etc
— drafting a memorandum of those present at the first and second 2017 roundtables
— scheduling and publicizing a list of regional Jewish heritage work camps
— organizing heritage tours for Jewish visitors to regional project sites, and engaging them in work camps
— installing signage at heritage sites with QR codes directing visitors to websites with information on the history of the site and project contacts
— drafting a sample letter that can be used for mailing to embassies, diplomatic institutions, NGOs connected with heritage, Jewish genealogy organizations, and twinned towns, summarizing the roundtable’s purpose, identifying the participants, and requesting support and cooperation.
Some of the specific sites and projects discussed at the session included:
Lviv — Presenters included Sasha Nazar, of the Lviv Volunteer Center of Hesed-Arieh, and Deputy Mayor Andrij Moskalenko.
Nazar said work would continue next year on several projects carried out in 2017, including headstone recovery at several sites and installation of a new heating system at the Jakob Glanzer synagogue.
that for 2018 the City is planning a commemoration at the site of Lviv’s wartime Janowska concentration camp, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liquidation. Review is also in progress to designate a final resting place for Jewish headstones recovered around the city in 2017 by the Lviv Volunteer Center (LVC), which may include construction of a memorial at the new Jewish cemetery at vul. Zolota […]. He also mentioned a proposed joint heritage project between the cities of Lviv and Uman.
Rohatyn — a comprehensive report was presented about projects undertaken in 2017. These included:
completion of non-invasive georadar surveys at the Jewish mass grave sites by an archaeology team from the UK’s Staffordshire University (the final report to be published on our website before year-end); ongoing Jewish headstone recovery progress; … collaboration with Rohatyn’s new local history museum “Opillya” for the creation of a permanent exhibit on the area’s Jewish history; and the signing of an agreement of cooperation with City of Rohatyn.
Dobromyl — where a memorial wall of recovered headstones was built at the Dobromyl Jewish cemetery, a major project realized in partnership with an American Jewish descendant of Dobromyl, Arthur Kurzweil, together with local residents and the LVC. In addition, a plaque was unveiled in the summer of 2017 at the site of the destroyed Great Synagogue.
The Dobromyl synagogue history project also produced a 300-page book on Dobromyl’s Jewish history, due out this month. Proposed projects for 2018 include the removal of Jewish gravestones from a lightweight auto bridge built in 1949 which is located in a residential part of the town, and creation of signage for the Dobromil Jewish mass grave.
Radekhiv — Local activist Tetyana Sadovska presented about recovering Jewish headstones as a broader memory project.
Ms. Sadovska would like to see the recovered headstones used to build a wall of memory, preferably at their recovery site in the Ukrainian cemetery, or alternatively, near the Jewish cemetery. She would also like to see the former synagogue turned into a cultural center or education space for residents and visitors to learn about Radekhiv’s multicultural history. For these and other ideas associated with developing the heritage of the city, Ms. Sadovska is working with the city of Radekhiv, but external support is needed for these projects to move forward.
Rudky — local activist Volodymyr Kogut outlined several projects he hopes to carry out or initiate in 2018:
including clearing of the mass grave site, cleaning and translating of the headstones there, and perhaps the creation of a new memorial similar to that in Dobromyl. He also hopes to write a book about Rudky’s Jewish history for a Ukrainian audience, and is eager to network and partner with other locations in the region with Jewish heritage projects.
Lutsk — Activists Tatyana Plotnykova and Sergei Shvardovskiy, Executive Director of the Lutsk Jewish community, outlined several proposed projects, including the creation of a memorial from recovered headstones, but also discussed difficulties stemming from “opposition within local government administrations” to their Jewish heritage projects.
Stryi — Petro Kuritnyk, a deputy with the local administration, discussed recent efforts to clean up and preserve the ruins of the synagogue and challenges for the future, including whether it should be rebuilt or preserved as a ruin. In addition, he said:
a group would be formed to approach the city administration to discuss planning and ideas. With regard to the Stryi Jewish cemetery and the mass grave at vul. Zelena, Mr. Kuritnyk said that for 2018 he would like to see a clean-up and headstone project initiated at the cemetery, and additional informational signs installed at the mass grave site.