Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ukraine Trip Post #3--Days 3-4 (September 3-4, 2016)

(To see everything from my Ukraine trip, see here.)

Once Shabbos was over, we headed to the Lviv train station for an overnight train from Lviv to Vinnitsa.

My train ticket

Since we were traveling through the night, we got sleeping cabins.  Each had 2 beds and a small table; there was storage for luggage under the beds.
Beth & my's "room" on the train
Neither Beth nor I slept very well, since the train would make noise, move, and there were also several stops along the way.  We arrived in Vinnitsa around 4AM.  The original plan was to check into a hotel at the railway station--where we had reservations--but the hotel was fully booked.  So we found a cab and asked to be taken to a hotel.  We ended up at the Hotel France which had just opened and was quite nice!
Our room in the Hotel France, Vinnitsa

After a few hours' sleep, we set out south.  The first town we went to was Krasnoye (hometown of my Sanshucks and Brandmans).  At the local market, we were directed to the pastor of the baptist church, a man named Pavel.
Welcome to Krasnoye!

We headed in the direction of the church--forgetting it was Sunday.  We pulled up, and Alex asked for Pavel who came out--in the middle of a church service which was celebrating some sort of mini-holiday.  Pavel's family had taken care of an elderly Jewish lady (Mrs Glazer), who lived with them until her death. He showed us some typical Jewish homes as well as the land on which the synagogue once stood.

The site of the Krasnoye Synagogue
Pavel said that once there were 5000 Jews in the town plus people from other religions; now there are only 2000 people and no Jews. He explained that they are evangelical and believe Jews are the chosen people and he was thrilled that I was there.
Niche where a mezuzah once was
He said there was one Brandman he knew of in the town after the war (we found her grave) but didn't know of any Sanshucks.
A typical Jewish home in Krasnoye with a large front porch--overgrown with vines

And that brings us to the cemetery.  There was a gate at the entrance, but the cemetery itself was incredibly overgrown. We all (including the driver!) spent nearly two hours photographing as many stones as possible, but there are likely many more that we just couldn't get to.  I'll be getting these all up onto JOWBR and the Krasnoye KehilaLink page.
In the Krasnoye Cemetery/Forest

Then we drove to Shpikov (home to my Zubkis/Supkoff family from the 1870s until they came to America).
Welcome to Shpikov!

In Shpikov, we followed locals' directions to the Jewish cemetery.  The Shpikov cemetery was on a hill with weeds as high as I am tall. There were trees growing into gravestones.  I spent hours photographing, but again there may well be more stones.  I was covered with nettles, and my face was bright red when I was done.  One benefit of being tree-covered was that the temperature was pleasant.  Again, these stones will be JOWBR and the Shpikov KehilaLink page.
Shpikov's Jewish Cemetery
We were directed to Ala Dizengoff, the last Jew in Shpikov--however she was born elsewhere. She invited us into her home and told us about her family (her two sons are a doctor and an engineer in Israel). She called a friend of hers who is Jewish and was born in Shpikov but lives in Vinnitsa, but the friend said she was born in 1952 and didn't know much.
The Dubover Family's House, Shpikov

Ala's husband showed us two former Jewish homes (owned by the Dubover and Schwartzman families). The synagogue was destroyed here as well.
The Schwartzman Family House, Shpikov

We were all pretty exhausted by this point, but I wasn't about to waste any time.  So after a quick late lunch, we continued on our way.

Burrs all over from the Shpikov & Krasnoye cemeteries
Next we went to nearby Tulchin.  My mother's family name was originally Tolchinsky, so likely the family came from Tulchin at some point.  However on paper I have them in Nezhin from around 1870 and Lubny before that.  But since I was in the area, we made a stop in Tulchin.
Tulchin Jewish Cemetery

Again, the Tulchin synagogue was destroyed.  However, its cemetery was different than Krasnoye & Shpikov's.  The old part of the cemetery is on a hilltop, and most of the remaining stones seem to have been worn away by the elements.  I took photos of what I could. The new part is much better maintained and seems to have burials still ongoing.  (All of the photos are in the Tulchin Folks facebook group.)
Worn stones in the Tulchin cemetery

Then we went to Kuna, the town where my Zubkis family lived before Shpikov.  Kuna has essentially been taken over by neighboring Gaysin.  No cemetery or synagogue is known to have survived.
Sign pointing towards Kuna
Geographically, here's where I was:

Stay tuned for more from my trip!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. So interesting! My great grandfather, Abe Claitman, was from Shpikov.

    1. Are you in touch with Pat Silverman Rosson? She's related to the Claitmans (and also to me).

    2. Yep, I'm Pat's cousin and she corrected me- my great grandfather was Hyman Claitman, not Abe. All four of my grandparents ended up in McKeesport so I have a feeling that you and I probably have other connections too.

  2. I am enjoying your visit and look forward to the next post.

  3. Beautiful in a eerie way. You took some awesome photos. I'm so glad you did this!

  4. Thank you so much for all your hard work. It was so exciting to see the pictures from Shpikov where my Gindelman and Fischman families are from. Maybe even my grandfather's sisters families though I don't know their married names.

  5. Nice post again, Lara. Look forward to next post and c u at JCC NoVA. -Tom O

  6. I noticed the blue house. I have photos of many Jewish houses in Bershad, and it seems that that shade of aqua blue paint was used everywhere.

    Thanks for showing us the landscape. Your accomplishments were tremendous, especially considering the overgrowth in the cemeteries!

  7. What does a "typical Jewish house" mean? Did Jews live in houses different from other people?

    1. Apparently Jewish houses tended to have cellars and front porches that went the length of the house, which Ukrainians' houses did not.

  8. Your series is absolutely fascinating! Have you seen "The Spoon from Minkovitz" by Judith Fein? Her trip has so many similarities to your trip, as she seeks to connect with her ancestors from that breakoff part of the Ukraine. It is a beautiful book, and I highly recommend it. She got some big surprises, and one HUGE one when she found the village of her grandmother.

  9. Wish the present residents would clear the cemeteries and maintain them. Someday they won't be located.