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Roots Trip 2016

Four of our 1st Generation survivors joined us this year and endowed us with their knowledge and perspectives. We learned, and more than that - tried to comprehend and internalize what happened to our parents, grandparents and families, as individuals and as a community that were so closely connected. We shared stories and many tears were shed as we stood in the very locations where so much evil was perpetrated.

On June 2nd we opened our exhibition with seventeen banners in both Ukrainian and English, entitled "A Story of Destruction and Survival" , in the partially renovated Drohobycz Great Synagogue. We were joined by members of Drohobycz, Boryslaw and Truskawjec, small Jewish communities, representatives of Drohobycz municipality, local citizens and visitors of the Bruno Schulz Festival which took place in town. The exhibition drew a lot of visitors and was extended beyond the expected closing date.

Visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/boryslawdrohobycz/ to see other images and reports of the trip including many photos taken by Dave Bloom who documented the entire trip. On Facebook you can listen to members of the group concluding the visit with an overwhelming consensus that these journeys are so important and play an important role in closing circles and discovering identity.

The week was intensive both physically and emotionally but well organised and supported by the professional staff who went out of their way to ensure that
everything went smoothly. It was not easy for such a large group to move around and maintain the agreed schedule as members of the group were often
distracted and intrigued by the possibilities of discovering aspects of their personal and family histories, but much was achieved in the one week. Many of
the participants vowed to return and continue the journey of researching their past in order to understand their future.

Milek (Shmuel) Vachtel (87 years old ) one of our staunch 1st generation members reminded the group time and again that the State of Israel was
our insurance that such destruction of our people will not happen again. He noted how proud he was of the second and third generation members of the organisation who continue to actively preserve the stories of Drohobycz Boryslaw and the surrounding towns and villages.

Others like Nurit Ganani wrote :
I did not go to find a key to the house, I went to find a key to memory. In fact I found a lot more than that! I found the house I was looking for but I also found a family, an extended family, a supportive family, a family hug, the organization of Drohobycz, Borislav and Vicinity.
The journey was planned with great care, a great team that accompanied and supported us with a solution for every issue and every need. The documentation done by Dave with sensitivity, empathy, great skill and care plus the personal stories of each one in the group. The chilling testimony from the children of the Holocaust, Milek, Yael and Marcel and Irena and your amazing exit from hell to raise glorious families. The beautifully written pieces by Yossi that touched our hearts and no eye remained dry from tears as you read them to us.

and Dov Barel Gottesman wrote :
I was thrilled and my heart was filled more than once during this tour of Drohobycz Boryslaw and the surrounding areas.
I hesitated several times before deciding to make the trip. To travel or not to travel?
Yaakov Litan convinced me and my wife Dorit urged me and so we eventual decided to join
the tour.
For me it was not only a journey into the past.
It was much more than that – in fact it was a journey into the future.
A journey to seek morality.
The moment a locked gate becomes a new and wide opportunity.
It is clear to me more and more that silence was not unique to my family.
Silence hovered over us all.
We are thirsty for more and more about the past, but for most of us there is no one to ask. The hunger to dig, to search, to try and find more pieces of information that has sweeps over us.
We want to know more about Yankel and Genia, Lucia and Stella, Moishe and Bronia, to remember and never forget.
The prayer El Maale Rachamim (the mourners prayer) delivered so beautifully by Dubi Spiegler strengthened us even though most are not religious in the full sense of the word.
We stood in front of the burnt rocks at Belzec where my grandparents, uncle, aunts and cousins were murdered and we heard echoes in our hearts.
I asked whether evil is over yet?
Whether God is indeed full of mercy (rechamim) ?
This was the place our loved ones were slaughtered, killed and burned?
And there is no answer.
In sharing these experiences all of the people on this trip became loved ones
I have found loyal friends.
Nurit so epitomized the feelings of my heart, Yossi gave me many moments to cry, Dave moved me, my cousin Shoshana and her son Omri became closer to me, Yaakov Litan who is like my brother helped me to deal with with feelings and emotions that overwhelmed me and I stood in amazement in front of the whole marvelous group.
Of course Daniella that gives of her time and passion and ensures every detail is arranged.
Angela organized this important tour with much thought and professionalism.
Thank you to all of you, dear family, all of you, and special thanks to my wife Dorit who encouraged me through quite a few difficult moments that I experienced.

Please see videos from our trip, by Dave Bloom