Olga Verbiana, a friend and journalist living in Rohatyn, alerted us through Facebook last week that another significant batch of Jewish headstone fragments were uncovered on vul. Drahomanovа across the road from the Hnyla Lypa River. The two dozen stones, mostly large fragments and each making up a third or quarter of an original stone, were discovered when a local resident began trenching for a new fence at the front of his property bordering the public walkway. When he dug the trench, he discovered the stones, which had been face down in the soil. When he flipped the stones over, he discovered unusual markings, and not knowing what they were, contacted Mykhailo Vorobets, Rohatyn’s historian and our longtime local contact for the headstone recovery project. Mr. Vorobets explained to the homeowner and workers that the large fragments were from the Jewish cemetery, ripped out by the Nazis during the occupation, used to build the public walkway, then probably over time covered with dirt and forgotten.
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Today after we met again at Rohatyn’s local history museum Opillya to discuss exhibition development, we accompanied Mr. Vorobets to see the fragments, which were still lying alongside the road on vul Drahomanovа near building 17. Several of the fragments have Hebrew inscriptions that are very legible, or carvings (some with candelabras, at least one with a crown), similar to others we have recovered over the last six years.
This is not the first time that Jewish headstones have been pulled from vul. Drahomanovа. More than thirty headstones were recovered here in 2016, the largest batch in July, and another stone in September. Other headstone fragments were found by the riverside here in 2012 and 2013.
This latest recovery of headstones is the largest so far for 2017. According to Mr. Vorobets, the city of Rohatyn has plans to renovate vul. Drahomanovа in the near future. We expect many more Jewish headstones to be uncovered when that happens.
Mr. Vorobets has kindly agreed to organize collection of these latest stone pieces, as well as their transport to the old Jewish cemetery, as soon as possible. Rohatyn Jewish Heritage added more money to the fund he has been holding specifically for this purpose. We photographed as best we could each of the fragments (shown below). The photographs will be shared with descendants in the Rohatyn Shtetl Research Group and uploaded to that website. We welcome and appreciate assistance in translating the Hebrew inscriptions once they are up.
The interactive map of headstone recoveries on the RJH website has been updated with this latest group. We look forward to more recoveries in the coming years, and to beginning work on the memorial display of the recovered stones in Rohatyn’s old Jewish cemetery in 2018.
Update: Olga reported to us the next day (20Sep2017) that Mr. Vorobets arranged to deliver the headstones to the cemetery that day, and the work was completed. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Vorobets, and to Olga for passing the news our way.