Re: General question about Relations for our Town

Ellen Shindelman Kowitt

I have had great success working with local school teachers in both Lyubar, Ukraine and Chudnov, Ukraine. Although noted that these towns are further east in the former Novograd Volynsk and Zhytomir Administrative Districts and not within former Galician borders. Most schools have English teachers and students interested in western culture and who are too young to have been complicit in wartime collaborations. There are organizations teaching Holocaust history and partnering with local schools. Contact me for one based in Kiev if interested. I met them while travelling with the German-funded "Protecting Memory Project" last summer who erected Holocaust memorials on 9 mass graves located throughout Ukraine. The towns selected were specifically chosen based on willingness by local school and municipal officials to continue teaching about the Holocaust. I am satisfied to report that the school contact I made in Lyubar reported that on the anniversary of the Lyubar executions this past fall, they did in fact bring students to the memorial site and honored the commitment. A fascinating side note is that one of the gymnasium schools in Lyubar has had a permanent exhibit about the history of their Jewish community on display in their lobby for many years. I have been JewishGen Lyubar town leader for over 25 years and saw original photos, maps and letters housed in their collection that are not available anywhere else. Adjacent to their Jewish exhibit was a model of a typical Ukrainian home exhibit and although that collection was more of a folk museum and not Jewish, I was excited to find a pre-wartime ceramic piece made by a famous Jewish factory near Novograd Volynsk city. My overall takeaway for your discussion is that there are opportunities to partner with the right people in these small towns. I felt safe travelling back to the region since my last trip in 1999, there is much more English (and Ukrainian vs. Russian) being spoken, and there is a willingness to openly discuss and acknowledge crimes of the past which were silenced under the Soviets. Feel free to contact me with questions.

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