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24/01/2017 15:42


What the word “expedition” is associated with? If one hundred years ago someone would decided to go to an expedition, he/she would look for white spots on the map. At that time “the white spot” had not figurative, but quite concrete meaning – a place where nobody was, about which nobody knew. Therefore in atlases they also remained white regions. There are no such places on our planet now. Even about unfooted places we know thanks to satellites. But, despite of the covered surface, we have to rediscover many places. The history, more correctly to say historical memory – memory of individuals, generations, all society has even more “failures”. From this memory huge layers without which people become culturally poor and at times obviously ignorant have been often and consciously erased.

In search of the newest “white spots” and their exploring the expedition of the Lviv volunteer center at “Hesed Arye” has been organized. In three days we have visited 4 regions and covered about 850 km! A frenetic pace to understand the general situation in the south of Galichina and to plan where it is necessary to return first of all and what to make for preservation at least those pittances of history which aren’t yet destroyed by time, vandals and indifference. Our way laid to the south – through Rogatyn, Berezhana and Buchach to Zaleshchiki on the Dniester. Here volunteers have met Sabbath. From there we made our way back – nonexistent Chervonogorod, Korolevka, Chertkov, Terebovlya, Ternopil…

Though, planning a route, volunteers carefully mapped location of synagogues and cemeteries, there were also unexpected stops when on the horizon or in the wood silhouettes of matzeva (a stone memorial or monument resting upright on a grave) appeared… In such cases our intense schedule was superadded with unplanned stops: volunteers recorded location of the cemeteries, made pictures of the overall condition of graves and their separate plates, collected and took out the trash. Experts in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish deciphered epitaphs. Besides old Judaic cemeteries volunteers have visited places of mass extermination of Jews during Holocaust.

The expedition succeeded to collect information for the extensive report. Here it is possible to note some issues.

In Rogatyn volunteers talked to the amazing person – a former teacher, now a pensioner Mikhail Vorobets who undertook a difficult task: regardless current environment to leave a mark in history of the local Jewish community. He takes care of the cemetery, monument on the place of executions, initiates installation of memorial tablets and tells about history, about Holocaust. Earlier in Rogatyn, like in many other cities of Galichina, throughout centuries representatives of different cultures got on nearby: Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jews…

If there were more such people like Mikhail Vorobets, then the overall picture of what we saw would be other, as well as Galichina and Ukraine. Only culture attracts people, and after it investments, science, education are coming. If there is no culture, useless emptiness is formed, which sets itself up for being the latest “black hole” on the globe…

We should know the famous people of the native land. Galichina has a Nobel Prize laureate, whom almost the whole world knows about, which portrait is printed on money! Unfortunately, very few inhabitants of today’s Western Ukraine know the name of Shmuel Agnon, a native of Buchach who not only in detail described the city of birth, but also left memories of the life, told about love to his Motherland. Fortunately today memory of the genius begins to revive: a small monument is erected, in the house of the writer a “literary yard” is organized, where various events take place.

The artist Victoria Kovalchuk has conducted a fascinating literary sightseeing tour with the use of unique selection of quotes from Agnon’s works. By the way, from Buchach comes as well Martin Buber’s family. Karl Emil-Frantsoz was born and lived in Chertkov; future iconic of all European women, the native of the village of Gorodenka – a film actor Alexander Granakh has for the first time fallen in love in Zaleshchiky; in the village of Korolevka, former shtetl, Yakov Frank, whom tens of thousands of followers in Europe and in the Middle East considered to be Messiah, came into the world!

Retrieving of historical memory can not be fully concentrated only on Holocaust. In this case it will not be strong and clear to the majority. Memory of Holocaust is important, integral, but, being pulled out from a historical continuity, is insufficient! Galichina’s Jews are not only collateral damage of the misanthropic ideology. These people lived, worked, created, loved and glorified the name of God throughout centuries. Work with this content, its promotion will be able to revive the Jewish culture of these lands, to make it clear. Personal understanding of this process leads to nationwide consciousness, on which strong society can only be built.