Monday, October 10, 2016

Ukraine Trip Post #8--Day 7 (September 7, 2016), Part 1

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

We started out early Wednesday morning with Mikhael picking us up in the center of Khust.  He asked where we wanted to go, and I said Kryva (accenting the first syllable).  He was confused.  I repeated it several times and finally brought it up on Google Maps.  His response: "Ah, KryVEH!"  Apparently the accent is on the last syllable, and it makes a difference. My Vizel family lived in Kryva and Bilovartsi right across the river.
On the way to Kryva

Mikhael was excited, since he had a cousin in that village; he called her, and she said she knew exactly where the Jewish cemetery was, so come by her house and pick her up.

In Kryva
We went to Mikhael's cousin Vitalina's house.  She was excited to see us--and especially excited to see Mikhael.  After everyone had pastries and tea (except me--Alex explained that it was kind of a religious fast day, since kosher would have been too hard to explain), Vitalina came along to direct us to the cemetery.  On the way, we stopped at the home of a woman who had been married to the last Jew in town, but she wasn't at home.

(Directions to the cemetery for anyone who is looking to go in the future: There's a small chapel with a gold onion dome on the main road. Turn there onto the dirt road to the monastery; there is also a sign to the St George monastery there. Go down the dirt road and then just past the monastery turnoff, on the left, is the cemetery on the left.  Or find Vitalina and she will help.)
Kryva Cemetery

Unlike the Kolodne cemetery I was in the previous day, the Kryva cemetery is fenced and well-maintained. Vitalina says that a man from Israel pays for its maintenance, and there was a plaque (see above on the white monument) confirming that.  (I photographed every stone in the cemetery, translated them all, and sent everything to JOWBR, so they should be searchable online soon.)  Not one stone had a surname though.
In the Kryva cemetery
Then we went to Novoselytsya, home of my Fuchs family. The road there was not as good as others we've been on in the region.
The road into Novoselytsya
Novoselytsya was higher up in the mountains than the other towns we'd been to, and the scenery was spectacular.

Welcome to Novoselytsya!
When we got into town, we were directed to a stone-covered road which would take us to the Jewish cemetery. There were some people on the road, and one of them, Natasha, turned out to be the niece of the man whose property we'd have to cut through to get to the cemetery.
Novoselytsya Cemetery (yes, there's a random cross in the middle)
Natasha said her uncle maintains the cemetery--some people from Khust paid him for a while, but they haven't for about 4 years, but he still keeps it up. I gave her some money to pass onto him, as it is the most well-maintained of all the cemeteries I've been to so far. She said most of the stones had fallen over, and her uncle had put them back up. Some stones were in a pile around a tree because he didn't know where they had been originally.
Grave of my great-great-great-great grandfather
Among the graves in this cemetery was that of my 4th great grandfather, Gershon (son of Yitzchok) Fuchs.  I was able to pull the weeds at the base of the grave to see that he died the 11th of some month, but I didn't feel right digging in a grave to see the month and year!  The stone is one of the more ornate ones in the cemetery.
Stones piled at the base of a tree; this is that of my 3rd great uncle, Yitzchok Menachem son of Gershon Fuchs

I've translated all of these stones and correlated some to death records to get surnames (since not one stone had a surname).  They've all been sent to JOWBR so should be online soon.
Novoselytysa on market day
Then we went into the town where it happened to be market day.  We found a man who remembered a Jewish man named Baruch. He said 4 people who survived the war came back to the town but eventually moved away by the end of the 1950s/beginning of the 1960s.
Novoselytysa's former shul, now the community center
He showed us the former shul (now the community center)--and also later emailed us a drawing of what the shul had looked like when it was still used as such.

Drawing of Novoselytysa's shul
He also pointed out a building across from the shul/community center which had also a Jewish communal building, but he didn't know the function.  It may have been a school, which is what it was used for until recently. It is falling apart.
Outside of the building formerly used by the Jewish community
Inside the building formerly used by the Jewish community
We then went to the town hall. The lady there didn't know much but walked us to an elderly couple's house.  The woman was sitting outside shelling some beautiful beans.
Carpathian Beans
She went in to talk to her husband, but they both said they were old and forgetful and didn't feel like talking.
Novoselytysa didn't seem to have running water.  Many houses had wells in the yards, and there was a communal well on the main street.
Novoselytysa Community Well
 Despite the lack of running water, this was the prettiest town we visited.
On the outskirts of Novoseltsya

As we drove south to Bilovartsi (which I'll talk about in a future post), Alex noticed a building that looked like it had been a shul in the town of Vil'khivtsi right along the main road. 
Vil'khivtsi Shul
We stopped and confirmed it was a shul; it seems to be a workshop now.

So where were we?

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  1. Your photos give me some idea of how my ancestors might have lived (in Botpalad and NagyBereg, for instance). I really appreciate being able to follow along in your gen travels.

  2. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for posting and taking such good photos on the trip!

    1. You don't want to know how many didn't even make the blog! I took over 2000 photos on the trips (of which maybe 1000 were of graves. :) )

  3. It doesn't look like there are any big stores in your travels. Like how would people maintain the roads or houses? Is there like a home depot type of thing within driving distance?

    1. There are small shops in the little towns for basics. Cities like Khust and Mukachevo have lots of large box-type stores. None of these places was more than an hour's drive from Khust.

  4. Amazing job. Real example of kibbud av v'em.

    1. Other than the fact that my mother wasn't thrilled with my going to Ukraine!

  5. Looks like it was a beautiful area, which makes me sad.

  6. Thank you for blogging in such detail - this gives us all hope that much more can be found on the Jewish branches of our families!

  7. I feel like I am with you on this trip. The countryside and towns are much prettier than I would have thought, and the fact that you have been able to find your ancestors' stones continues to amaze me. You really should publish all these posts as a book. Thank you for sharing your experiences.