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The world of Jewish literature and art is vast, and spans millennia; Rohatyn is small, and Jewish life there, on this scale, is brief. But Rohatyn’s Jewish community thrived for more than three centuries, and in many ways was representative of Jewish life in large parts of central and eastern Europe. For this reference list we have selected works and web sites which include Rohatyn or the surrounding regions, and illuminate both what was common and what was particular to the lives and the life views of its people.
This page is part of a series on reference materials and web links related to Jewish heritage work in the Rohatyn region and beyond.
The Bridal Canopy
Agnon, S.Y. 1931; English translation 1967; re-issue 2015. Jerusalem, Israel: The Toby Press / Koren Publishers.
An early novel from the Nobel Prize winner for Literature (1966), and considered one of the first classics of modern Hebrew literature. Through a fictional account of comically quixotic travels through towns and villages of early 19th-century Galicia, Agnon brings shtetl experiences and the diversity of Jewish communities to life. Many eastern Galician place names are recognizable in Yiddish variants; Rohatyn is the location for much of the action in the second half of the book. Agnon has returned to his native Buchach, near Rohatyn, through the Agnon Literature Center there.
Random Harvest: The Novellas of Bialik
Bialik, Hayim Nahman; translated by David Patterson and Ezra Spicehandler; Westview Press; Boulder, Colorado, 1999.
Six short works of fiction by Bialik, widely considered the national poet of the Jewish people, as revered for his enrichment of modern Hebrew as the national language as Shevchenko in Ukraine and Mickiewicz in Poland. Bialik was raised and schooled in old-world Zhitomir and Odessa, but his stories are vivid and fresh, infused with both realism and lyricism. The novella “Behind the Fence”, about a doomed love affair across cultures, captures the intimacy and distance of neighbors from different worlds.
The Peasant Girl in the Ghetto, from Among Men and Beasts
Trepman, Paul; translated from the Yiddish by Shoshana Perla and Gertrude Hirschler; A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc.; Cranbury, New Jersey, 1978.
In the “gallery of Holocaust portraits” which concludes the memoir is a story the author must have heard from ghetto inhabitants about a Jewish man from near Burshtyn who wound up in the Rohatyn ghetto, and the Ukrainian girl who followed him there out of love, ultimately ending in a mass grave with him and his family among the Jews of Rohatyn.
Zapomniani – My Żydzi kresowi (Forgotten – Jews of the Borderland)
Polec, Andrzej; Wydawnictwo BOSZ; Lesko, 2006.
An album of black-and-white and color photographs of Jewish heritage sites in western Ukraine (historical eastern Galicia, Volhynia, and Podolia), together with members of the small Jewish communities (resident of visiting) in the towns and villages, and with brief texts of personal observations by the photographer from visits he made between 1977 and 2005. An effort to record a shattered world and preserve some memory of it, the book includes two pages from the 1998 survivors and descendants memorial event in Rohatyn. Foreword by Simon Wiesenthal.
Spurensuche (Searching for Traces)
Herrmann, Christian; reserv-art Verlag; Köln, 2015.
An album of black-and-white photographs of Jewish heritage sites in western Ukraine (former eastern Galicia and Bukovina), by the German photographer and blogger Christian Herrman of the site Vanished World. The photos function as visual essays on the state and concerns of Jewish material heritage (buildings and cemeteries) in the region. Rohatyn’s old Jewish cemetery is features on the book’s cover.
In Fading Light / In schwindendem Licht
Herrmann, Christian; Lukas Verlag; Berlin, 2018.
An album of color photographs of Jewish heritage sites in 57 cities, towns, and villages of Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Romania. A visual review of sites in ruin, rest, and renewal, with a handful of portraits of activists in Jewish life and heritage. Headstones recovered from city streets and returned to Rohatyn’s old Jewish cemetery are shown.
Far from Zion: Jews, Diaspora, Memory
Francisco, Jason; Stanford General Books; Stanford, 2006.
One of many works by a prolific artist and essayist meditating on themes of diaspora Jewishness and Ashkenazic Jewish history, the book combines black and white photographs of Jewish life in Europe and North America to explore the ways in which the 20th century concentrated the centuries-long Jewish experience of migration, assimilation and destruction, and how Jews have adapted (yet again) to create their individual and collective lives. Includes an end text of Francisco’s “diasporic investigations” interleaving selections from his notebooks, family stories and conversations, quotations from other writers, and his reflections on the evolution of Jewishness. Although out of print, good used copies of the book are available from private booksellers and an excellent digital excerpt is available on Francisco’s website, linked above.
Matzevot for Everyday Use
Baksik, Łukasz, Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, Ewa Toniak, Jan Tomasz Gross, Agnieszka Kowalska. 2013. Czarne and Uptown Foundation.
Photographer Łukasz Baksik grapples with the residue of destroyed Jewish cemeteries in Poland, discovering recycled headstones used as construction materials in roads, buildings, parks, etc. Encountering an old matzevah used as a grindstone sparked his documentary photography project. In Polish and English.
On the Web
A digital platform and sub-network of Europeana providing integrated access to the most important European Jewish art and heritage collections in worldwide museums, libraries, and archives. A digital resource of books, newspapers, photographs, postcards, music, oral history, and museum objects. A partner with JudaicaLink, providing access to key reference works of Jewish culture and history. An excerpt from their newsletter provides more information about the project.
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
The world’s largest archive and library focused on “the thousand-year history of Jewish life in Eastern Europe and Russia in all its aspects: language, history, religion, folkways and material culture.” Also hosts cultural and educational events, and publishes works on a large variety of topics, including an online Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.
Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute
Forming a part of the vast archives of Jewish documents assembled by the institute, the JHI Museum collects and exhibits works of graphic art, painting, and sculpture, plus memorabilia and Judaica primarily from Jewish artists and artisans who worked in greater Poland. The exhibition space also presents insightful exhibitions on modern Jewish artists, and their blog site presents music, art, and literature in historical context.
Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art
A visual database named for the founder of the Center for Jewish Art (CJA), a research institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Index documents and presents Jewish visual culture in more than 40 countries. Now displaying more than 25 thousand images plus descriptive text, the database can be browsed by subject or object origin, and searched by artist, community, location, or object type.
Polin: Museum of the History of Polish Jews
The website of the large new museum in Warsaw is a valuable resource itself. The museum hosts two information sites: the Central Judaica Database, which digitizes and organizes Judaica collections assembled by institutions and individuals, and the museum’s Resource Center, which collects research materials used in the development of museum exhibitions as well as general references for individual researchers.
Nash Holos: Ukrainian Roots Radio
An internet radio program appearing weekly from Vancouver and mirrored live on the web and on other radio stations in North America and Europe, Nash Holos (Our Voice) presents stories, interviews, book reviews, and musical events covering Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian culture and folklore. The website and programming especially features Ukrainian Jewish heritage as well as Ukrainian folk music and books.
Christian Herrmann: Vanished World
Blog site of a photographer covering issues of Jewish heritage in Central Europe, and leading heritage preservation projects in Bukovina. A frequent visitor to Rohatyn, thanks to friendships with us and others working in the region. Herrmann has also published two books of photographs (see above) and several exhibitions of his studies of east-central Europe. We are fortunate to be able to travel with him frequently in the region, to see the heritage from his perspective.
Jason Francisco: An Unfinished Memory
Subtitled “Jewish Heritage and the Holocaust in Eastern Galicia”, and curated as a permanent exhibition for the Galicia Jewish Museum (see above), the site and installation combine Francisco’s research, photographs, and essays in an effort, in his words, “to speak of remembrance and brokenness” and “to mix historical imagination into the perception of the everyday world.” Particularly relevant to our own work is the exhibition section “Interventions Against Tracelessness“, which features Rohatyn.
Galicia Jewish Museum
Established in the Kazimierz district of Kraków, Poland more than 10 years ago, the museum serves as an educational resource and as a host for cultural events which focus on the Jewish past, present, and future in Galicia: southeast Poland and western Ukraine. With both permanent and temporary exhibitions, ongoing education programs and publications, a large bookshop, and frequent lectures, concerts, and family events, the museum is a hub for learning. All exhibitions are in Polish and English.
For more references and links related to work on Jewish history and heritage in western Ukraine and the nearby regions, see our main page on this topic.