EDUCATIONAL PROJECTS 2008-9: UKRAINE

Centre for Jewish Education in Ukraine (CJEU)

The CJEU is leading an educational project directly involving 30 participants, primarily students of the Kiev-Mogila University Judaic Studies programme. Over 90 cemetery and mass grave sites in Kiev City and Oblast are being visited and surveyed by project participants during 4 residential trips and a number of one-day visits. The surveys were preceded by a series of seminars given by historians and Jewish heritage specialists, including sessions on Jewish epigraphics, the Jewish history of the region, Jewish material heritage, archival collections useful for Jewish historical research and the halachic aspects of working with Jewish burial grounds.

The seminars were directly followed by visits to Jewish cemeteries and mass graves in Kiev City to develop practical skills prior to the large-scale surveys beginning. The project includes the development and production of a manual and a Russian-language website to be used in future projects.

Jewish Student Center (JSC)

The Kiev-based JSC undertook a five-day residential visit to Zakarpattia Oblast in late May 2009 involving 18 Jewish student activists from throughout Ukraine. Participants learnt about the Jewish history and culture of the region, with a particular focus on Chassidism, and surveyed 7 Jewish cemeteries and mass graves. They also carried out historical research prior to the visit, supplemented by interviews with local community members in Zakarpattia. Presentations on the project to 200 pupils at the local Orach Chaim Jewish secondary school will also be given by participants in September 2009.

Hillel Kharkov

Hillel Kharkov’s project centred on the surveying of 20 Jewish cemeteries and mass graves in Kharkov City and Oblast during 11 one-day research visits. 40 participants have been directly involved in the surveys, with a further 25-30 involved in the seminars. Preparatory work included comprehensive preliminary research on burial sites with local specialists, as existing data for this particular region was poor. In addition to seminars led by CJEU representatives (see above), participants also had the opportunity to meet former prisoners of the Kharkov ghetto.

A further event to take place within the framework of this project was a round table at Kharkov Jewish school with students, senior pupils and representatives of other ethnic communities. Event participants were encouraged to share their own vision of the problems of Holocaust, tolerance and interethnic relations in the modern world.

The third stage of the project, which will take place at the end of July 2009, will involve a 4-day ‘mini-camp’ for 40 young people. Participants will spend over 30 hours working on a burial ground close to the camp site which was identified during the surveys as being in particular need of attention, in addition to taking part in educational and entertainment activities in the evenings.

Tikva Odessa Jewish University

Odessa Jewish University’s project, which involved around 100 students, focused on the surveying of 75 Jewish cemeteries and mass graves in Odessa Oblast. Surveys were carried out during 10 one-day expeditions and were preceded by lectures on Jewish history and cultural heritage and classroom-based historical research: participants were separated into groups of four and carried out independent research on the history of the Jewish communities that inhabited the towns they would be visiting.

Existing information on cemeteries and mass graves, taken from surveys carried out by the Ukrainian Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage between 1993 and 1996, was also checked against internet and archival sources by participants.

Project participants will present their work to other students and pupils of the Tivka school/university network in Odessa in September 2009.

Ukrainian Union of Jewish Students (UUJS)

In early July 2009, UUJS led a four-day residential visit for 30 Ukrainian youth leaders (Jewish and non-Jewish) to the historical Podolia Region of Ukraine. The expedition focused on the Jewish history and culture of the region, the Holocaust, and the possibility for the peaceable co-existence of cultures. Surveys of 6 Jewish cemeteries and mass graves were also carried out by participants. All participants are expected to give post-event presentations to their respective youth groups as a condition of their participation in the project.