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One Day in October: Pilgrimage to Home

Posted 22/10/2012

October 2012

By INNA ROGATCHI © 2012 –

Photos: Inna Rogatchi © 2012 -

Art Video: Inna Rogatchi

 

Soon after the official inauguration of the world's largest multi-functional Jewish Community Centre Menorah in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, this unique institution for Ukraine was opened to the public on Sunday, October 21st, 2012.

Inna Rogatchi © The Entrance. One Day. October 2012, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © The Entrance. One Day. October 2012, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

According to the conservative estimate of the organisers, there were over eight thousand visitors on Sunday, October 21st. It is only natural that many of us visiting the museum and the centre premises and galleries, have had personal feelings and observations; all of them are individual and unique, objective and subjective ones. Among the objective ones were the incredible number of visitors, the range of their ages, and that nice, calm, friendly atmosphere which is an important factor for such a big gathering; especially as it is not that typical for the southern Ukrainian temperament and habits. Remarkably, and for some to-be-discovered reason, all the events around the opening of the Menorah Centre in Dnepropetrovsk were marked by that unusual serenity and even gentleness, a very amicable and decent atmosphere and behaviour of the many guests and visitors alike.

Inna Rogatchi © Touching History I. One Day. October 2012, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Touching History I. One Day. October 2012, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Importantly, there were many non-Jewish people, and quite a lot of youth who were all interested in seeing what's inside that magnificent Menorah building in the centre of their large industrial city with its over 1,5 million population. From the museum stands, many of them would learn now that Dnepropetrovsk was now one of the major Jewish centres in all of Eastern Europe, with over 36% of the population being Jewish there by the end of XIX century, and over 25% of all industry belonging to Jewish businessmen at the beginning of the XX century.

Inna Rogatchi © Learning the Past II. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Learning the Past II. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Dnepropetrovsk was also a quasi-important city from a spiritual point of view - the place where legendary Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the father of the 7th Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was the chief Rabbi of the place for over 30 years, and where the 7th Lubavitch Rabbi himself spent his youth.

Inna Rogatchi © Spiritual Thread III. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Spiritual Thread III. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Subjectively, I was thinking that there was certainly something special in the timing of the events of that week of Menorah opening: on October 21st, thousands of people were crowded in the newly inaugurated centre and its very good Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine museum. Seventy-one years back, the time of three generations, August 25th, 1941 was the day of the massive slaughtering of the Jewish population of Dnepropetrovsk by the Nazis entering the city. Over 11 000 human beings were murdered then. Among them were my grandmother's younger sister Mina Chigrinskyand her elderly aunt whom she did not dare to leave, both were unable to leave the city prior to the Nazi occupation. Among them also was my husband's family member, Litovsky, who has perished there, too. Among them were many friends and acquaintances of both of our families. We saw many of them in the photos from our grandmothers' and mothers' family albums, and they have become well-known to us although we had no chance to see those people. They were old and young ones, children too. They were part of our families' lives. Until August 25th, 1941.

Inna Rogatchi © Final Solution. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Final Solution. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

I was following the eyes of the people during the whole of Sunday, October 21st, 2012, throughout their visiting Menorah and its new museum. At some stage, I found that inside the building, I am led not by the themes and subjects presented there, but rather by the eyes of the museum's visitors. Some of them were crying, very quietly, trying not to disturb so many other people around. Some of them were staring in disbelief. Some were unable to tear their eyes from the many exhibits in front of them for a long time.

Inna Rogatchi © Memory Thread IV. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Memory Thread IV. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Many men, Jewish by origin but not that observing or religious, were wearing kippah in public, maybe, for the first time; they did it emphatically on that October Sunday; and how proud they were not only 'to belong', but to come there, to be there for their own feast of memory. Their and their families, who did not live to see this day, to participate in our joint pilgrimage to home.

Inna Rogatchi © Pilgrimage to Home. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Pilgrimage to Home. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

As basically every other Jewish person in that multi-thousand crowd, I was thinking of my family, as well. My great-grandfather Meer Chigrinsky who nearly died of hunger during the 1930s being responsible for distributing food during the worst years of famine in Ukraine. My grandfathers and their brothers, - Abram Jalovitch who was a heroic engineer producing special steel during the war, and who was arrested after the war during the anti-Semitic repression campaign and spent a few years in a GULAG prison; his brother Solomon Jalovitch who was one of the most important Soviet scientists and who was sent among the first five men to Hiroshima and Nagasaki immediately after the nuclear bombing; after being exposed to the massive radiation, he did calculate the date of his death to the day. My other grandfather Eliah Bujanover who fought heroically against the Nazis, and whose brother Solomon Bujanoverwas another top-secret legend, the person who authored the Soviet precision bombing during the WWII.

Inna Rogatchi © Full Stop. One Day. October 2012, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Full Stop. One Day. October 2012, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

I thought of my grandmother Adel Chigrinsky who being left an orphan very early, did manage to feed the whole family since she was just eight years old. My mother, legendary teacher Anna Bujanover, and my father, brilliant engineer and inventor Isaac Bujanover who died so very young.

I thought of the family of my husband Michael, his brave grandmother Sofia Litovsky-Reis who was heroically fighting anti-Semite bandits like Makhno and his gang, and who adopted several Jewish and non-Jewish orphans; all of them, along with her own big enough family, were living in just one room, remarkably. Michael's mother Maija-Mara Reis-Rogatchi, an elegant beauty who had to abandon her beloved Dnepropetrovsk to go after her husband who was arrested after WWII during the mad Stalin purges, and sent to the Valley of Death, the worst place of the GULAG. All her life she dreamt about returning to her beloved trees, boulevards and streets of Dnepropetrovsk. I remembered many members of our extended families, with so many of them gone. I felt them all inside those museum's walls on that Sunday afternoon.

Inna Rogatchi © Coming Back I. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Coming Back I. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

And I know that so many other people who came to the museum and Menorah Centre on that day, felt the same. One could see it in their eyes, and hear it in their silence.

Inna Rogatchi © Walking Through the Memories II. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Walking Through the Memories II. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Seventy years is a period over which about three generations occur. In Dnepropetrovsk, the time has made quite a parabola on that October 21st Sunday, - returning us to our memory, making it alive, volume-like and palpable. Returning our dear ones, who are not with us any longer, to the more articulated, justified, graphic existence, even if in their post-earth-life.

But time does not function on its own. Whatever happens, it is the result and consequence, direct and otherwise, of people's will, energy, and intentions. Good and bad ones, as we all know. There were so many people in Ukraine and other places working tirelessly to make Menorah and its museum true; prolific businessmen did finance the ambitious project; local authorities did help to make it possible, too. But at the core of all that joint effort there was and is the inspiration of the Dnepropetrovsk Chief Rabbi, outstanding personality Rabbi Schmuel Kaminezky whose vision, faith and understanding has become the essential factor for very many people's lives. That alone would be quite an achievement, on any count. But to be able to maintain a dialogue with time, in the way that it will become graceful to us, living today, and to those who are not with their families any longer; that time would embrace all of us belonging to the native place of us and our families, many generations back, and that the memory balance that had been crushed and non-existing, would be restored, - that mission of Rabbi Kaminetzky and all the people who he was and is inspiring for the establishing and creating Menorah and its museum, is truly a rare manifestation of the Power of Good. The success of that mission would be remembered by many generations.

Inna Rogatchi © Rabbi Schmuel Kaminetzky. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Rabbi Schmuel Kaminetzky. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

There was no other place for me and my husband to be on that Sunday, October 21st, 2012 than Menorah Centre in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine; to witness the life of generations returning to their home.

Inna Rogatchi © Coming Home II. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Inna Rogatchi © Coming Home II. One Day. October 2012. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

October 2012, FINLAND

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