Friday, November 18, 2011

Ukraine -- Report on a Jewish Heritage Tour

Ohel containing tomb of the Baal Shem Tov in Medzhybizh. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

As I am currently compiling up to date information on Jewish heritage sites in Ukraine and other European countries, I was pleased to come across an article by Yoram Dori, a senior advisor to Israeli President Shimon Peres, describing a Jewish heritage tour in Ukraine preceding participation in the Limmud cultural/educational event in Odessa. Dori traveled with Chaim Chesler, the founder and chair of the executive of Limmud FSU, Dan Brown, founder and editor of the eJewish Philanthropy website, Natan Roi, editor of the Jewish Agency’s Hebrew website, and Edvard Doks, a travel guide and Ukrainian correspondent for Yediot Aharonot.

His article focuses on the fact that few if any of the Jewish heritage sites they visited bore mezuzahs or plaques or other signs indicating their history and origianl purpose -- and issues that has loomed large across former-Communist Europe since public interest in Jewish heritage began evolving in the late 1980s.

Ver is di mezuzah? (“Where is the mezuzah?”) was the question at the heart of our tour of various Jewish sites in Ukraine, preceding the recent Limmud FSU festival in Odessa. [. . .]

For me, by the way, everything is clear. When I get home I will try to find a solution at least to the missing plaques. Maybe by an appeal to the president of Ukraine who is due to visit Israel shortly. To allow hundred years of Jewish history to disappear without trace is just not acceptable.

Their stops included Zhitomir, Berdichev, Vinnitsa, Medzhybizh, and Uman.  (Except for Vinnitsa, I covered all these sites in Jewish Heritage Travel.)

Jewish cemetery, Berdichev. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber


  1. With a question like "ver is di mezuzah" supposed to be in Yiddish it's understandable that they found nothing... Who is the mezuzah? So serious...

  2. I hope that you will be able to find all the missing plaques so that mystery about "Ver is di mezuzah?" will be settled then.

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