Ukraine has the largest number of Jewish cemeteries in the world, many of which are in severely neglected state. We are in the eleventh hour to save them, and it is only possible to do so with strong cooperation between local and international stakeholders.
To date, ESJF protected 123 sites in seven countries across Central and Eastern Europe. Over 80 of these fenced sites have been in Ukraine, with strong support from local authorities. To mark this historic achievement, the ESJF organised a 3-days-long journey across Western Ukraine, on 11-13 March, led by founder and chairman Rabbi Yitzhak Schapira.
The highlight of the even was an international gathering in Zbarazh Castle State Museum on Tuesday, March 12, attended by the Ambassador of Israel to Ukraine, Joel Lion and Chief of the Legal and Consular Section at the German Embassy Jens Krauss-Masse. Rabbi Yitzhak Schapira received honorary citizenship from Zbarazh mayor Roman Polikrovsky. Stepan Stepanovych Barna, the head of Ternopil Regional administration and Svitlana Bondar from Zbarazh Regional Council assured the delegation of further cooperation.
The delegation visited cemeteries in Zbarazh, Buchach, Kremenets. After a closing dinner where the mayor of Kremenets, Oleksiy Andriyovich Kovalchuk joined guests in a Hasidic dance, the group departed for Dunbo, where one of the oldest cemeteries lays yet unfenced. Local authorities, among them Vasyl Mykhailovych Antonyuk attended the visit, expressing their hopes for future cooperation.
Besides thanking mayors, city and oblast administration staff, ESJF also expressed gratitude to individuals whose work has proven invaluable in the protection of Jewish heritage in Ukraine. Kateryna Kryvko, a local student who took upon herself to protect the Jewish cemetery of her local village of Derazhne in Rivne Oblast, and Tetiana Fedoriv from the Zbarazh Castle State Museum received awards of appreciation form the ESJF. The three days were ended on a high note, with survey plans and more cooperation on its way.