Babi Yar: Location of Soviet & Jewish Monuments #ukraine


Gary Platt <grplatt@...>
 

Relative to the exchange of messages between Chuck Weinstein and Eve
Greenfield, I am pleased to share the following with the group:

The shock & dismay over the truth of the Babi Yar massacre goes beyond that
which Eve experienced. The Soviet monument IS NOT at the scene of the
massacre. The massacre actually took place approx. 3/4 of a mile away,
behind what was then the Jewish cemetery. I have photos of the Soviet
monument and the Jewish monument, located near the edge of the
ravine where the massacre was carried out, and would be happy to share them.

I travelled to Ukraine last May with nine other members of Temple Shalom,
Succasunna (Morris County) NJ. We brought a Torah to a reform congregation
in Zvenigorodka. We also visited Korsun, Cherkassy and Kiev. Aleks
Dukhovny, the only Progessive (Reform) rabbi in Ukraine is headquarted in
Kiev, but covers 34 other congregations throughout the country.

Aleks, a former electrical engineer and tour guide took us to the Russian
monument and then on to the actual site of the massacre. While it does sit
beside a ravine, the Russian monument is nowhere near the massacre. I don't
know whether the topography is natural or contrived. Babi Yar ran behind
the Jewish cemetery, approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile away >from the
Russian monument. Jews were ordered to assemble there, then marched >from
the street to the ravine (approx. 1/8 a mile) where they were slaughtered.

During the Soviet era, the gov't announced that they planned to build a TV
station on the grounds of the cemetery. They offered to relocate the
bodies. Think about it, how many people were willing to come forward and
identify themselves as Jews during the communist era. Not many! The station
was constructed over the graves that were not relocated. It station stands
to the left of the path that leads >from the Jewish monument back to the
street. As we were leaving, we came upon workmen digging a trench who were
visibly agitated. They had dug up bones, not those of masscre victims but
rather those of Jews whose graves had not been relocated. Joel Soffin. our
rabbi, and Aleks, explaining to the workmen that we wished to give the bones
a proper
burial, took charge of the bones. We then brought them back to a site
maintained by the US Commission For Jewish Monuments Overseas, which
contains about 10 - 15 relocated graves, placed them in a void under a slab
and said Kaddish (having just finished saying Kaddish at the edge of the
ravine). Suffice it to say, it was one of the most moving experiences of my
life.

We are coordinating with the congregation in Zvenigorodka and have raised
funds to: refurbish the temple; provide aid to elderly
pensioners; provide transportation so that children >from surrounding
communities can comes study (we participated in a B'nai
Mitzvah ceremony for 17 children and one adult the day we presented the
torah); and,. refurbish the Jewish cemetery. We are
returning this July!

Again, I would be happy to share photos upon request.

Gary Platt

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