About Rohatyn Jewish Heritage

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On the road north of Rohatyn

On the road north of Rohatyn. Photo © 2015 Alex Denysenko.

Rohatyn Jewish Heritage (RJH) develops and manages heritage preservation projects aimed at reconnecting the 400-year history of Rohatyn’s now-lost Jewish community with the people and places of the modern Ukrainian city. Our project activities include research, documentation, recovery, rehabilitation, education, and commemoration, all illuminating the links between Rohatyn’s history and its future, and between its people in town and abroad. The heritage we preserve and promote includes both physical sites in Rohatyn and intangible culture which transcends time and geography. The histories we gather and integrate bring new vibrancy to Rohatyn’s multicultural past.

Since our beginning in 2011, with the cooperation of current Rohatyn residents and volunteers from around the world, RJH progress has included:

  • annual cleaning and maintenance at all of Rohatyn’s Jewish burial sites (two cemeteries, two wartime mass graves)
  • recovery of more than 600 Jewish headstone fragments from under Rohatyn streets, and their return to the old cemetery
  • organization and finance of a professional survey to determine the physical boundaries of Rohatyn’s wartime mass graves
  • landscape design for an enhanced memorial space at the south mass grave
  • research and publication of local Jewish and Ukrainian histories, including wartime memoirs and testimonies, plus the identification of local righteous gentiles
  • development of a multi-part historical timeline of Rohatyn’s Jewish community, including descendants around the world today
  • joint creation of a permanent exhibition on the Jewish community with Rohatyn’s local history museum
  • documentation of surviving pre-war Jewish community religious and education buildings.

Our website aims to be 100% bilingual (English and Ukrainian), presenting local Jewish history and culture, topical historical timelines, memoirs and testimonies, project status, news, and heritage tourism information.

Rohatyn Jewish Heritage is a volunteer-led registered nonprofit non-governmental organization (NGO) in Ukraine (громадська організація in Ukrainian), with identification number 41047464.

Find us on Facebook.

Who We Are

Marla Raucher Osborn – Marla received her Juris Doctor from Hastings College of Law at the University of California, San Francisco, following a BA in Political Science from UCLA with concentration on Eastern European Governments and Political History. She has worked as a transactional lawyer in California, and for 2015~2016 was a staff member working on Jewish heritage projects at FODŻ (the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland), in Warsaw. Marla was a Fulbright US Scholar for the 2019~2020 academic year, conducting a research and demonstration project on Jewish heritage in western Ukraine. An avid family historian since her early teens, Marla was one of the founding members of the Rohatyn District Research Group (RDRG), begun in 2009 for Jewish descendants of Rohatyn living abroad, and has served on the boards of directors of Gesher Galicia and Remembrance and Reconciliation, has written for many genealogy and heritage publications, and has lectured at schools, meetings, and conferences in the US, Israel, and Europe – including in Rohatyn. She made her first visit to Rohatyn in 2008, and in 2011 lived in nearby Lviv, Ukraine for five months to better engage with the region and with Rohatyn; since late 2016 she has lived full-time in Lviv with her husband Jay. Marla’s beloved paternal grandmother Chaje (Annie) was born in Rohatyn to an extensive Jewish merchant family which had lived in Rohatyn for many generations; Annie and her parents emigrated to the US just before the start of World War I. Marla serves as president of the NGO Rohatyn Jewish Heritage. Email Marla.

Jay Osborn – Jay earned a BS with highest honors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Irvine and has worked for 30 years as a computer design engineer; he is named on more than 20 US and GB patents for Sun Microsystems and Apple, and has worked in California, Europe, and Asia. Currently he is responsible for historical map research and assembly for the Gesher Galicia digital Map Room; the first map he assembled (in 2011) was the 1846 cadastral sketch of Rohatyn, for the RDRG. Although he has no family roots in Rohatyn, Jay is an engaged proponent of the ongoing heritage program; he has accompanied his wife Marla on almost all of her trips to the town, and serves behind the scenes as program manager for planning, documentation, logistics, and technical problem-solving. Jay serves as head of the supervisory board of the NGO Rohatyn Jewish Heritage. Email Jay.

Wito Nadaszkiewicz – Wito is Executive Director and managing partner of LawCraft Legal Services and Consulting in Lviv. Educated at Lviv Polytechnic National University and at the University of Warsaw, he earned a Masters and a PhD from the University of Warsaw. Focused on international business programs, Wito specializes in civil, commercial, and tax law, plus systems management and business process optimization. He has supported production, trade and service sector enterprises in Ukraine and Poland, often as a head of department and corporate director. He is the author of more than a dozen scientific works and over a hundred journalistic articles and books, and is fluent in Ukrainian, Polish, Russian and English. He also volunteers his personal time for a number of civil society initiatives, including serving on the board of the Lviv Volunteer center. Wito created and registered our NGO in Ukraine, and continues to serve as an NGO board member and as in-house legal and financial counsel, providing guidance on a wide variety of organization issues and opportunities for Rohatyn Jewish Heritage. Email Wito.

Vasyl Yuzyshyn – We were introduced to Vasyl by our mutual friend Christian Herrmann in late 2016, and have traveled with him to Rohatyn nearly every month since, sometimes several times in a single week or for extended stays. We depend on Vasyl as a driver, an interpreter, and a friend in our interactions with suppliers, officials, citizens, and the curious on most of our visits to Rohatyn and nearby towns and villages with significance to our history. We have also traveled with Vasyl to dozens of other Jewish heritage sites all across western Ukraine, from Lutsk and Zhytomyr to Uzhhorod and Chernivtsi. Vasyl was born and raised in Galicia not far from Lviv, has worked as an automotive mechanic and as a freelance web programmer (including for Gesher Galicia), and for the past decade has been a popular driver for Jewish heritage researchers and visitors from around the world, traveling across Ukraine and throughout central Europe. Vasyl’s friendly manner and easy smile make him a perfect companion as we bridge languages and cultures wherever we go.

About Our Logo

The logo of our NGO

The logo of our NGO,
Rohatyn Jewish Heritage.

The inspiration for our NGO logo, shown in the image at left here, comes from four sources.

One source is the name of the city of Rohatyn, and its coat of arms: the Roh in Rohatyn relates to Rih, the Ukrainian word for horn; in Ukrainian, horns and antlers are are the same word. The City of Rohatyn has taken a deer antler as its official emblem.

Another source is the name of Marla’s Rohatyn ancestors; their family name was Horn, and Marla’s grandmother was born in Rohatyn as Chaje Horn, later called Annie Horn. The word horn has the same meaning in German (the language of the Austrian Empire, which ruled Rohatyn when Annie was born) as it does in English.

Sources for the design of our logo

Sources for the design of our logo. Left to right, the coat of arms of the City of Rohatyn; Marla’s Rohatyn-born grandmother Annie Horn; the headstone fragment unearthed in 2016, now returned to the old Jewish cemetery in town; and the Magen David, a common symbol of the Jewish people.

A third important source is a Jewish headstone fragment unearthed from a street in Rohatyn in 2016 and returned to the old Jewish cemetery. The stone displays symbolic carving including a pair of Lions of David, a floral decoration, and for the first time in our headstone recovery project, a rearing deer. The carved deer is incomplete on the broken fragment, but we have adapted its design as a key part of our logo. To learn more about the symbols carved into Jewish headstones in Rohatyn, see our article on the art and meaning of recovered Rohatyn matzevot.

The final significant design element in our logo is of course the Magen David (also called Star of David, or Shield of David), the six-pointed star which serves as a widely-recognized symbol of the Jewish people around the world. This star has been used as a decorative and/or symbolic element in many cultures for more than a millennium, but today is most closely associated with Jews and Jewish culture. For us it helps to identify the heritage we work with, as a component of pre-war multi-cultural Rohatyn.