07/5/13

LES ARPENTEURS – Le tourisme de la mémoire

LES ARPENTEURS : LE TOURISME DE LA MÉMOIRE

Dans les rues de Tchernivtsi, en Ukraine, Sylvie une jeune retraitée française, cherche l’ancien atelier de son oncle tailleur. Sa famille a perdu sa trace en 1941. À Lviv, autre ville ukrainienne, c’est Antonin, étudiant de 22 ans, qui entame avec sa grand-tante un périple émouvant dans son histoire familiale. Eux aussi sont à la recherche d’un aïeul disparu. Quant à Orane et Rémi, frère et sœur d’une trentaine d’années, c’est la Pologne qu’ils sillonnent, enquêtant sur la disparition de leur grand-oncle Léon.

Chaque année, de nombreux Français consacrent leurs vacances à tenter de retracer le destin de leurs ancêtres juifs. Ces derniers vivaient en Europe Centrale où des familles entières ont été les victimes de ce que les historiens appellent la « Shoah par balles ». Ainsi, en Ukraine, plus d’un million de Juifs ont été fusillés par les Nazis.

Ces touristes de la Mémoire portent un nom : les Arpenteurs. Ils sont aidés par des guides locaux qui préparent leur voyage, collectent indices et documents d’archives, repèrent les lieux ou retrouvent des personnes qui ont pu connaître leurs parents disparus. Un long travail fait de patience et d’obstination qui permet, parfois, de renouer les fils d’une histoire familiale souvent tragique.

Un reportage en forme de témoignage signé Renaud Lavergne et Vincent Barral

07/4/13

Berezhany: My City, My Pride

In Berezhany, a town in the Ternopil region of Western Ukraine, a group of local students discover their history.

Jeremy Borovits: First off, thank you for your responses, and for watching the film. It has been interesting for me to hear all of your thoughts about the topic.

My first point is this: In no way, shape, or form was my goal to exculpate Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust. I have been living in this country for three and a half years, and I am well aware of the role some Ukrainians played. The goal was to try and get the students to realize that the history of what happened in Berezhany is a part of their history, whether it happened to Jews, Ukrainians, Poles, Roma, or Armenians.

Judaism, as well as the Holocaust, is not taught very well in Ukraine. A part of this is certainly due to the role many Ukrainians play. But it is much more attributable to the fact that the Ukrainian education system is rife with corruption and is still based on the old Soviet model. All history taught in Ukraine is either Soviet-centric, Russo-centric, or Ukrainian-centric. This is a problem with how they approach history, not some deep rooted evil that lies within them.

Along that note, I have lived in Ukraine for three and a half years, and at least one conclusion I have come to is this: NOT ALL UKRAINIANS ARE ANTI SEMITIC. Are there anti-semites here? Yes, certainly. But in the time I have been here, I have never experienced any active anti-Semitism. This past Shabbat I was in New Jersey, and while walking home from synagogue someone yelled “Kike” at me from their car. And this was in New Jersey.

There were Ukrainians who participated in massacres during the war. There was a very small minority who risked their lives to save Jews. But the VAST majority was simply trying to survive. Their lives and the lives of their families were at risk. To hold all Ukrainians responsible for what happened is both historically inaccurate and morally wrong. In 1932-1933, Stalin exacted a famine on the Ukrainian people (as wel as some other nationalities.) Millions of people were starved to death (probably around 3 million). Lazar Kaganovich, a Jew, was one of the Soviet officials who executed the famine. To hold all Ukrainians as responsible for the Holocaust is to say that all Jews were responsible for the Holodomor (the name given to the famine.)

History is not, and will never be, black and white. We all have our own emotions that factor into the equation, the memories handed to us by our parents and grandparents and beyond. The challenge for all of us, and especially in projects like this, is to see the Grey.

No one had ever talked to these students before about Jews. They knew nothing. And now they know something. And they for sure, throughout the course of the project, got to know many Jews of various sizes, religious observance, and facial hair. I cannot guarantee that they have all changed. But I do get the sense that the next time someone says something about the Jews, these kids will stand up.

One last point to make: I am sure that all of you who have seen the film remember the man with the large mustache and the hat who spoke of the Jews drinking the Ukrainian’s blood. What didn’t make it into the final cut was the students arguing with him. How can you think that, they asked. How can you believe that? How can you not see that a person is a person.

I truly believe that hatred will breed hatred, and love will breed love. Teaching our children that we are all equal, that we are all individuals, and that every human life is sacred, is, for me, the best weapon against hatred, the best support for love.

This is a difficult topic, and the making of this film was a difficult process. I am sure some of will accuse me of naivety, or blindness, or perhaps of being a self-hating Jew. I can only tell you that it was while living in a Ukrainian village that I found Hashem, and my neighbors and students were there to support me.

If you have a response I welcome it, both via the forum as well as privately, if it makes you more comfortable.

All the best

Jeremy

05/26/13

Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage

04:24 Marla Raucher Osborn: Impact of Jewish Genealogists
21:17 Cologne Jewish quarter excavations
42:01 Ilya Lensky (Latvia) – Developments with the restoration of the synagogue building in Kuldiga and the Green synagogue in Rezekne
63:26 Marcus Roberts (UK) – J-trails
80:02 Annie Sacerdoti: Whither the European Day of Jewish Culture

CLICH HERE FOR THE FULL JHE CONFERENCE COVERAGE
CLICK HERE FOR MARLA RAUCHER OSBORN’S PRESENTATION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PICTURES FOR MARLA RAUCHER OSBORN’S PRESENTATION
CLICK HERE FOR MARLA RAUCHER OSBORN’S ESSAY “WHAT REMAINS OF A LIFE”

Marla Raucher Osborn: “From April 23-25, 2013, I attended a conference at the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, Poland on Jewish heritage management. The conference was a follow up to an earlier seminar on Jewish heritage management in Bratislava, Slovakia in March 2009 by Jewish community representatives and experts from a dozen countries.

This year’s conference had approximately 90 participants from 20 different countries. The focus was on Jewish preservation projects, challenges, and strategic thinking, and also on how to unite « experts » in these fields with Jewish descendants groups who which to pursue, or who have, on-going preservation projects but lack the know-how, contacts, and funding to proceed and/or fulfill their goals. [...] I am a « hybrid » – a « cross-over » – individual: a passionate genealogist AND preservationist.. I am not an expert on Jewish heritage preservation but I am an advocate for its place in the world of Jewish genealogy. I also know firsthand the discouragement that can set in when an individual or a group feels overwhelmed by projects too large, too expensive, and too far away to even start, let alone manage and see to completion.

All of us in the Rohatyn Shtetl Research are intimately familiar with these feelings.

Our group – the Rohatyn Shtetl Research Group (“RSRG”) – has numerous on-going Jewish heritage projects in Rohatyn, as you know, including a Jewish headstone recovery project which has grown in size and complexity over the last few years. The practical issues and financial considerations faced by us are typical of other Jewish descendants groups who seek to memorialize their town’s pre-War Jewish population and perhaps contemplate someday acquiring surviving buildings of former Jewish significance.

I strongly believe that the RSRG Jewish headstone recovery project could not have been possible without the support of the local (non- Jewish) Ukrainian community of Rohatyn of today. This issue – the involvement and support of the present-day community in the recovery and maintenance of Jewish heritage – was a recurrent theme among the presenters at this year’s conference. [...]“