I woke up at 4.40 am this morning – still very emotional and unsettled from the previous day’s visit to Boryslav. I spent some time adding text to this piece and correcting earlier text.
I don’t remember being so worked up in a long time and it effecting my sleep like this. I am not a “morning person” and normally really struggle to get out of bed (with alarm clock).
Every day this week I have been up well before 6.00 am (not my usual lifestyle by any means) and walked every morning for at least an hour. It has been important to breathe the air, feel the earth and roads under my feet and see the views and vistas that surrounded my family who lived for at least three generations in these parts.
This morning a few of us accompanied Shmuel back to Urycz to check to see if the grass at the memorial there had been cleared. Shmuel had met with a couple of his connections and paid them to clean the site. We took the dirt track which was still wet from the previous day’s thunder storms and he was pleased with the results.
He gave the large statue what seemed to be a hug before starting the walk back to Schodnica and said ” until next year”. See clip
We left the hotel at Schodnica and drove about 40 mins to the town of Stryj which had a population of 11,000 Jews before WWII. Today there are maybe 10 Jews at most.
We were taken to the old main Synagogue which is a shell of a building. It is a large red brick building with no roof and has lost most of original plaster . There are two iron gates with Magen David’s on them and one other on on one of the internal walls. That and two metal plaques near the entrance with Ukrainian and Hebrew explanations are the only signs that this was a synagogue.
We also walked for a few minutes through the old ghetto area and the main square of town…nothing special. Our guide Angela said she was not comfortable in Stryj ( watch our bags) and there are “banderos” (nationalist gangs). She would be proven to be correct.
See this clip about the Synagogue in Stryj (in Hebrew).
We were then taken to the site of an old Jewish cemetery near the main square we found a monument in Hebrew and Ukrainian in memory of some famous Rabbis who were buried there..
We found that on the plaque in blue spray paint was a swastika and some words in Ukrainian which was hard to make out….a harsh jolt back to reality after several days of positive encounters with the locals.
We arrived in Lvov in the early afternoon and after checking in I went for a walk around the old city. Our hotel is very well situated and is quite new. Later our Israeli organizer Angela arranged an unusual walking tour of the old city by a group of actors…dressed in costumes depicting the 17th century of Lvov and telling the story of the city.
One disturbing piece of information was when the main local guide Tanya showed us the site of one of the original Synagogues – a square which is basically a paved parking area..she pointed out that some of the slabs used to pave the area where the synagogue once stood we’re in fact headstones from Jewish graves. The main Jewish cemetery no longer exists…a community that numbered some 160,000 before WWII and after the war only about 850 souls survived. Today there are about 3,000 Jewish souls in Lvov – many who settled there after the war and during the break-up of the former Soviet Union.
( see pics and video of the tour)