Lohishyn Spring 2017 to Winter 2018
When I visited in 2016 the Jewish cemetery in Lohishyn was almost lost to the ravages of nature, the grave stones almost completely buried under a thick layer of leaves, compost and brush. Svetlana, the teacher we met, had done her best to keep it up with the help of her students but she was no match for the fecundity of Belarus’ vegetation. After I enlisted the help of Yuri Dorn of the Jewish Heritage Research Group and offered to raise money to restore it Svetlana measured the cemetery; it was 100 x 100 meters, or about the size of 1 1/2 football fields -- much larger than was apparent. She was finally successful in getting Mayor Valery to organize volunteers to clear away some of the brush and small trees! When I returned to Logishyn in April 2017 it looked remarkably different. Svetlana, Valery and I discussed the type of fence and the rest of the clean up. I promised that I would raise the money to complete the project.
I created a short video and we raised enough money for the project.
In July 2017 additional clean up of the cemetery started. The team had to stop work in August because their only electric saw broke and they had to wait a week for it to be fixed. The pictures below show what it looked like by September. Unfortunately, by then the town’s tractors were harvesting their potato crop and could not be used to remove trees and brush. Yuri decided to send his engineer from Minsk to Lohishyn to scope out the situation. Public transportation in Belarus is not good so he would have to find someone to drive him there, also not an easy task.
After the engineer’s survey, we decided to build an iron fence which would be more durable than a concrete one. We also needed to find someone to remove the tree stumps or new trees would start to grow out of them. By the end of the year the major clean up had been completed and we contracted with a local company to build and install the fence.
In July 2018 Yuri visited the cemetery and reported that, “Cutting the grass and bushes does very little, it keeps growing back with enormous speed” and suggested that we apply herbicides in the spring of 2019 when the grass starts to grow.
In three months the cemetery was already overgrown!
Finally installation of the fence began in August 2018.
Yuri told us that the project was delayed once again. “We had to obtain extra permission to dig from the west side of the cemetery because phone lines were running on that side. Also, we had to wait until the town administration could move firewood from the south side of the cemetery.” But by November 2018 it was done!
A huge thank you to everyone who helped preserve evidence that there was once a thriving Jewish community in Logishyn and a place where we can go pay our respects to our ancestors. Donors included Martha Adriasola, Deborah Agre, Susan Boyer, Noah Chasnoff, Oscar Conrado, Alvin Holtzman, Debbie Huysentruyt, Shadi Kabajah, Diala Khasawnih, William Klausner, Irene Lazaridis, John Miller, Madelyn Miller, Jacob Mnookin, Jim and Wendy Mnookin, Seth Mnookin, Cheri Pies, Lisa Pred, Virginia Ribeiro, Evren Savci, Cathleen Schine, Gerald Schwartz, Victor Silverman, Marc Stein, Nancy Stoller, Susan Stryker, Dimitry Tartakovsky and Jim Van Buskirk.
In Spring 2019 we’ll spray herbicide and then, hopefully, index or document the people buried there. I’d love to find someone who reads Hebrew to go with me to do that. And lastly, get Google to add the cemetery to its map. (Apple doesn’t even map Belarus!) One of our donors asked Google to add it but they declined since we didn’t have a website advertising it! Perhaps with this page now almost finished they will change their mind. :-)