In his newly launched blog, Vanished World, Christian Herrmann provides a report on some of the organized volunteer groups, mainly of students and young people, that come to Ukraine (and elsewhere) each summer to help clear up Jewish cemeteries.
He focuses on the student groups who worked in the Jewish cemetery in Chernivtsi (Czernowitz) and also visited nearby Sadagora (Sadhora) last summer as part of a study program.
For the last five years, volunteer organizations have been engaged in the maintenance of the Jewish cemetery [in Chernivtsi]. Young people from the whole world remove vines and undergrowth in an attempt to make the cemetery accessible each summer. It is hard physical work but it is possible to learn and experience much.
It becomes very quiet, when the volunteers from the work-camp of SVIT Ukraine enter the former synagogue of the rabbis of Sadagora. The path leads through tall growing weeds and tottering planks to the interior. They view the damaged frescoes, the leaking ceiling, rotten floor-boards. Here, people once came to pray, now no one comes any more. Chassidim from Israel have tried to save, whatever can be saved. Now there are difficulties with the Ukrainian authorities, the restoration work has stopped. This fall it will again rain through the provisional roof, in the winter snow will fall on it. Whether the roof will hold fast depends on the harshness of the Ukrainian winter. […]
Both SVIT Ukraine and SCI Germany (International Civil Service) have now had work-camps at the Jewish cemetery in Czernowitz for five years. Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste) has done the same for 3 years. Encouraged by this, former Czernowitzers have formed an organization, to collect contributions with which to hire laborers to clear the cemetery.