July 22, 2019

Unexpected cemetery discovery in Novoselytsia, Chernivetska oblast

ESJF has begun the process of surveying in Chernivetska oblast, and have already visited over 60 sites. In many cases, our work focuses on areas where historical records suggest the likelihood of a long-term Jewish presence, but where accurate documentation is missing, in order to determine whether a Jewish cemetery was ever present.

In that vein, an unexpected discovery was made last week, when our team found a cemetery in an area we did not expect to. Surveyor Ian Galevsky was driving through the area bordering Bukovina and Bessarabia, when he arrived in Novoselytsia, an important Jewish town with a synagogue containing rare frescoes. He was there to survey a cemetery we were already aware of, which proved to be fenced and well maintained. However, when he stopped to inquire about road conditions on the route to his next destination, he encountered a local man, Gennadiy Alexandrov, and his daughter Diana. They struck up a conversation, and they soon asked him to follow them to the location of a secondary Jewish cemetery in Novoselytsia they knew of, which is overgrown and hidden.

While we had no historical evidence to indicate the existence of another Jewish cemetery in the area, the site was indeed there, overgrown and hidden, with some truly gorgeous preserved tombstones. Nothing quite like this has happened since the ESJF’s survey work began, and we find ourselves once again humbled by the help locals are willing to offer.

We would like to thank Diana and Gennadiy, without whom we would never have made this discovery. ESJF will now establish the age of the cemetery and begin the work of reconstructing this lost piece of history.

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