Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon
JOURNAL, SECTION 1
Dr. Ronald D. Doctor
Overview & WarsawHome
This Journal describes a visit that my brother Ken
and I made to Ukraine in September 2002. I had several objectives in
making this trip: First, to try to discover documents relating to our
family history and to walk the ground where our ancestors lived; Second,
to make contact with officials in Kremenets regarding documentation,
restoration and maintenance of the Jewish Cemetery there; and Third, to
try to gain some understanding of Jewish life in today’s Ukraine. Ken
empathized with these objectives, and in addition, wanted to see some of
the tourist sights in Ukraine and to gain some understanding of how
Ukraine was making the transition to western values.
I’ve written this in a “Journal” format to try to capture our sense of adventure and excitement as we travelled through Ukraine and met some remarkably helpful and friendly people.
started our visit in Warsaw. Alex Dunai (our exceptionally capable and
affable guide, translator, driver, bodyguard and, I hope, our friend)
met us there after we had spent a few days in the city. We had
opportunities to visit the reconstructed “old Warsaw”, and some
Jewish sites. We met with Yale Reisner at the Jewish Historical
Institute and I obtained some documents from him that I didn’t know
existed … passports for 11 people who left Kremenets for Israel in the
1929 – 1939 period. At Yale’s suggestion, I visited the AGAD,
Ancient Acts Archive of Poland, and obtained copies of portions of two
18th century Kahal documents for Kremenets. While I was doing
this research at the Institute and AGAD, Ken went on a tour of Jewish
Warsaw and Treblinka.
Yale Reisner and Ron Doctor
drove us across the border into Ukraine. We spent a night in Lviv, and
then drove on to Ternopil. We used Ternopil as a base for our visits to
Kremenets and nearby ancestral villages. And, at the Archives in
Ternopil, we obtained some unexpected census documents (Revizskaya
Skazka) that push our family history back to the years before 1735.
These documents added 5 generations to our Vurer family line, and 2
generations to the Doctor family line, besides adding several collateral
lines. We visited Kremenets, met with Mayor Andriy Andriyovich
Huslavskiy and Larisa Klyuch (Coordinator for the 20 person Jewish
community of Kremenets) about the Jewish cemetery restoration project,
and, we visited Novy Oleksinets and discovered several previously
unknown (to us) tombstones from the Jewish cemetery. We shared a Rosh
Hashonah dinner with the Jewish community of Ternopil, and met the
leaders of the community.
Ternopil, we drove to Kiev. Did some tourist stuff there, and met with
Olga Muzychuk, Director of the Central State Archives of Kiev. Olga
presented me with the results of some research that extends our Kazdoy
line back another generation. While I recovered from a bout of TD, Ken
and Alex spent a rainy day seeing some of the sights around Kiev.
from Kiev to Uman and Odessa. In Uman, we visited two of the cemeteries,
one old, and the other new. The gatekeeper at the new cemetery allowed
me to photograph the pages of their burial register. As far as I know,
the Register has not been generally available. In Odessa, while Alex and
I obtained records on my Kazdoy and Dubinski lines at the Archives (in
the old Brodsky Synagogue), Ken walked around town.
returned to the US from Odessa, and Alex and I drove back to Ternopil
where we met again with the Mayor of Kremenets and with Larisa Klyuch
(Coordinator for the 20 person Jewish community of Kremenets) to
followup on our previous discussions. The meetings were promising, but
the cemetery restoration project will require time, patience, and some
also visited Yampol, another ancestral town, and discovered a new
building erected over the gravesites of two Rabbis. A man named
“Moishe” from New York paid for the construction. Construction was
completed just one week before we visited. Three weeks before our visit,
the workmen, on their own initiative, retrieved 25 matzevot that had
been thrown into the river by the Soviets during communist rule. I got
close up photos of each. And, we visited Vishnevits, where I
photographed about 65 matzevot in the old Jewish cemetery.
I spent a little less than 3 weeks on this trip. Between us, Ken and I took more than 1400 photos with our digital cameras. We have a heavy editing job ahead of us. I have included selected photos in this Journal. The Journal comprises five sections. The first four correspond to major segments of our travels. The last offers some observations about travelling in Ukraine.