Burial Sites Clearing Season Ends for 2023

At left, Marla among flowering plants at the south mass grave; at right, periwinkle and other flowering plants at the north mass grave.
Photos from earlier this year © RJH.

Today Marla and I traveled to Rohatyn again to visit the four Jewish burial sites and to review the vegetation clearing and maintenance work which was done for us again this year on behalf of Jewish descendants. This was the second year during which the work was completely managed and documented for us by two men who live and work in Rohatyn, and we are again pleased with the work and the results.

Ця сторінка також доступна українською.

Ihor Zalypko (at left) and his progress photo at the old cemetery. Photos © RJH.

At the old Jewish cemetery, Ihor Zalypko, a vodokanal engineer who lives a short walk from the site, made three complete clearings of wild grass and shrubs from late spring through mid-autumn, finishing for the season three weeks ago. With cooler weather now and dimmer light, the grass grows very slowly and will go dormant through winter. Because of Ihor’s regular work at the site, the old cemetery remained visibly cared for and accessible to visitors throughout the season.

Vasyl Yurkiv (at left) and his progress photo at the new cemetery. Photos © RJH.

At the new Jewish cemetery, Vasyl Yurkiv, a bicycle mechanic who lives across a road from the site, made four complete clearings this season and performed light maintenance of the grounds including leveling new molehills to keep them from becoming a trip hazard for visitors. Earlier this year Vasyl also helped us by loaning a tool and providing advice during the installation of a large new information sign in front of the cemetery.

Trees removed for safety behind the north mass grave monument. Photo © RJH.

Ihor Zalypko has also been maintaining the two Jewish mass grave sites for us for several years, since the retirement of our dear friend the late Mykhailo Vorobets. Again this year he cut wild grass and weeds at the two sites, planted flowering shrubs at both sites, and cut back the poisonous Sosnowsky’s hogweed at the south site, making both memorials presentable and clean for visitors. At the north site, Ihor also used a chainsaw to cut down a few large trees which were leaning over the memorial monuments and threatening damage if they had fallen in high winds.

Vasyl Yurkiv with one of the donated brushcutters.
Photo © RJH.

The arrangement with the two men has worked well for us and for the sites in the past few years, and we hope to continue similarly in the coming years. Since we are no longer doing the clearing work ourselves and with teams of volunteers, this year we donated two of our used but strong motorized brushcutters, one to Ihor and one to Vasyl, to express our gratitude for their careful work and to offset their equipment costs.

Poisonous hogweed, a perennial pest at the south mass grave site. Photo © RJH.

As can be seen in the photos here, both cemeteries and both mass graves look very good and well-maintained now as they have throughout this year, which helps the sites gain engagement and respect from local people and visitors alike. The ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine weighs heavily on people across the country, but citizens everywhere are fiercely resisting the invader’s attempts to tear their society apart. One very visible form of resistance here is through strengthening and defending sites of cultural heritage. We are encouraged by this and are pleased to be able to join in that essential effort.

A panorama of Rohatyn’s old Jewish cemetery today. Photo © RJH.

A panorama of Rohatyn’s new Jewish cemetery today. Photo © RJH.

A panorama of Rohatyn’s south mass grave site today. Photo © RJH.