|A photo of the beautiful
city of Kiev taken on our vist in 1995
Saturday, April 22,
We said goodbye to Borys Zavelsky in Lvov and drove to the
airport to try and find our lost bags so that we could proceed
to Kiev. Airport officials say the bags are here, but it is
two hours later and we have not seen them yet. Slave, our
driver, is waiting with me in the car and I can hear Miriam
Weiner echoing in his words. He speaks virtually no English,
but is trying to communicate with me and be nice, so he said
"slep Kiev." What he was saying was we still have
a long drive to Kiev after the baggage problem is solved.
It is really cute how both Vitaly and Slava use the Jewish
expressions they have learned from Miriam.
Three and a half hours after trying to get the bags, Alan
& Vitaly emerged from the airport successfully. Alan said
he had never seen such a scene; pushing, shoving, hollering
and LOT Airlines saying "Ukrainian problem" and
Ukrainian airport workers saying "LOT problem."
Well, we have our bags so it is all forgotten.
We left Lvov for our seven hour drive to Kiev at 3:30PM. We
bought bananas and oranges to supplement our "picnic"
Vitaly had brought from the hotel.
At about 10:30PM we came up to the Kiev City sign. Dutifully
as good students of Miriam, we stopped and took a picture.
We checked into the Intourist Hotel and went down to their
disco for a little snack, and believe it or not had pizza.
We were all a little punchy by then, but we had our bags and
we were in Kiev.
It is really wonderful that on this trip we do not have to
handle money, pay any bills or take photographs or videos.
We have no worries and Vitaly takes care of everything. This
is a real treat for us and very easy to get used to.
Sunday, April 23, 1995
Our first day in Kiev. We set out about 11:AM to see some
of the Jewish sites. First stop, the old Synagogue in the
one time Jewish Quarter. It is now a puppet theater and we
did not go in.
Next stop, the War Museum. An incredible place with magnificent
sculptures and memorials outside. Inside a most interesting
museum detailing WWII and with the best display that I have
seen on this trip memorializing the Jewish people lost in
the Holocaust. There was a guillotine on display that they
said was used in the concentration camps. We never knew that
this was done. The statue of "Mother Russia" in
the park was quite a site. You can see it from many parts
of Kiev. We were most impressed with this area.
Next we went to Babi Yar, the memorial to the Holocaust victims.
Vitaly explained that the memorial was in the wrong place.
When the sculptor found this out he built another small memorial
where the Kiev Jews had actually been shot by the Germans
and then put into a ditch. Ironically, next to this memorial
is the smoke stack from the garbage dump. There are a few
tombstones scattered near the memorial.
Back to the hotel. Vitaly talked to the restaurant about the
dinner tonight for our relatives. I said I would love to have
chicken Kiev. I had always heard that Chicken Kiev originated
in Kiev. He said yes, but Alan said wait and see.
At six we met our Kiev relatives: Mark Zavelsky and his daughter
Svetlana and Stanislav Zavelsky (Mark's nephew) and his wife
Raz. All lovely, lovely people. Mark was very happy and thankful
that we had found all the Zavelsky's and written the book.
He is very intelligent and a very kind and quiet person. He
was also thrilled with the Russian translation. I have a feeling
that Mark is a person who has much more depth to him then
appears on the surface. He is a construction engineer, involved
in building bridges and evidently does not work steadily.
I am certain that making a living is a great problem.
Mark was very intuitive and interested to know if the Zavelsky's
kept in contact after finding and meeting one another. We
liked Mark very much. Mark's daughter, Svetlana, is charming.
She is 22 and works for the Israeli Embassy. Svetlana too,
is trained as an engineer but cannot find work in that field.
She has two friends who have immigrated to New York and we
believe she would also like to immigrate. We noticed that
Svetlana was wearing a Jewish Star. I asked her about Jewish
life today in Kiev and she told me that the younger people
are returning to religion.
Mark is also studying Hebrew. Stanislav and his wife are also
very quiet and nice. He is soft spoken as is Mark. He is the
son of Mark's brother Ilya who passed away several years ago.
Stanislav and Svetlana call themselves "brother and sister."
Stanislav and his wife and two year old son are moving to
Germany, where Raz's family has also moved, to try to make
a better life for themselves. They were all very interested
in the family. Stanislav is a computer programmer and his
wife a Russian language teacher. These are all loving, reserved
and gentle people. We wish we could see them more often and
hope that we can do something to help them. It is not our
intention to meet them once and forget them in the future.
As I am writing now, we are listening to the memorial service
for the people lost in the Oklahoma bombing this week. How
ironic, we are here in Ukraine remembering the Holocaust victims
and also seeing a memorial to needless loss of life in Oklahoma
Monday, April 24, 1995
Last night at dinner, Vitally had a major success ordering
Chicken Kiev for all of us. To our amazement it was exactly
what we had wanted. For us, it was our best dinner here.
We started out after breakfast and Vitaly had invited his
friend Felix to be our Kiev guide. Our first stop was at Kiev's
operating Jewish Synagogue where we met Rabbi Yakov Bleich.
A thirty year old Rabbi from Brooklyn. He has been here with
his family for five years. He is sponsored by the JDC. The
Rabbi told us there are 100,000 Jews in Kiev and that there
is a return to religion. The Temple was small and old but
with beauty in its simplicity. It also has a day school. There
was a Holocaust survivor there who wrote a book about the
Jews of Kiev that he autographed for us.
We walked through the streets of what used to be the Jewish
area and went to visit the famous monastery that has a city
underground. Kiev is very hilly with many cobblestone streets.
Lunch was in a restaurant in the park along the Dneiper River.
My lunch was great - Blini with red caviar. After lunch, we
stopped in to see a bazaar where they sold fruits and vegetables.
The produce was excellent looking. We bought bananas, oranges
Back to the hotel and dinner. We were exhausted from walking
up and down the hills. The churches in this city are very
beautiful with their glistening gold copula's. Quite sight
Tomorrow is off to Nezhin, Sosnitsa and Glukhov, the ancestral
towns of my grandparents and great grandparents.