Four memorials were unveiled last week in different regions of Ukraine at sites of Jewish mass murders during the Holocaust. These sites have not been previously recognized and are part of a multitude of other mass burials that remain to be officially marked. The openings have been made possible through a joint initiative of FJC community rabbis, the Rabbinical Center of Europe and Agudas Ohalei Tzadikkim organization.
The four memorials were opened in the regions of Ternopil, Khmelnitzky, Poltova and Vinnitsa with the participation of local FJC Jewish communities, nearby city, and government officials, leaders of the partnering Jewish organizations, sponsors of the project and general public. The opening ceremonies were covered by local media.
“We stood there over the mass grave of thousands of our Jewish brothers and sisters, who were finally remembered for the first time in 80 years. Now we will have the chance to come here to commemorate them, to remember the past and think about the future,” said Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm of Zhytomir about the memorial opening in the Poltava region. The entire Zhytomir Or Avner school came to the memorial ceremony.
The graves were discovered through diligent work of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, Agudas Ohalei Tzadikkim and FJC’s local Jewish community rabbis. They performed extensive research and spoke to the last remaining eye-witnesses and local historians.
“We collect evidence from the elderly Jews and Ukrainians who still remember, locate the mass graves and only after an expert team confirms the findings, do we propose to erect gravestones in memory of those who perished,” said Rabbi Ari Goldberg, the Chief Rabbi of the Center European Rabbis about the openings. “There are thousands of such burial sites throughout Ukraine and we are determined to uncover and commemorate as many of them as possible. Now, 80 years since the Holocaust, there are very few people who still remember, therefore, this work is urgent and vastly important,” he said.