16 June 2013

Baranivka, 16 June 2013

We visited Baranivka yesterday but got caught in a rainstorm of leviathan proportions. I only managed to take a photo of the village sign and this statue of Lenin and writer Maxim Gorky before the rain began.

By the time we reached Yurovshchina on our drive back to Zaslav, the sun was shining, but the sky was threatening. So today, after visiting Polonne (more on that after we return there tomorrow), we decided to try once again to visit Baranivka.

My interest in Baranivka stems from my recent research into Feiga Liderman Grinfeld and her family. Over the past year, I have posted several episodes of my on-going research to determine our familial relationship, if any (Use the label word Grinfeld on the right side of the blog to see all the posts in that series.). Feiga was born and resided in Baranivka before emigrating to the United States in 1922 with my great grandfather Avrum Garber.

Very little of Baranivka's rynok market core remains. This is the area where Jewish people were likely to have lived. There were no obvious pre-WWII buildings in sight, save the Ukrainian Catholic church.

I wanted to visit the Jewish cemetery to see its state and, if possible, photograph some tombstones.  We only had to talk with a couple of people before we were standing in front of the unmarked cemetery. The area is overgrown with vegetation and mostly untended. It is fenced and gated and the gate was open. Amazingly, there does not appear to have been much trash dumped within the fenced area.

There were a few tended graves where the weeds had been cut and some flowers or wreaths left graveside. For the most part, however, the graves could only be reached by climbing over, crawling under, or wending around weeds, brush and trees. 

After my Labun Cemetery visit a few days ago, I'd learned my lesson. This time I slathered on insect repellent to keep the mosquitos at bay. Today, however, the mosquitos were, miraculously, not at home. My biggest nemesis was the stinging nettle. After I'd recorded about ten possibly readable tombstones, I nursed my nettle wounds and considered the stones I could not see within two areas of thick brush. I knew there were nettles in there. I did not know if there were readable tombstones. Those possible stones will have to await a researcher with a machete, a heavy long-sleeve shirt and leather work gloves.

I continued through the cemetery and took about 45 photographs. Most tombstones were fairly recent and in Russian. A few were traditional and in Hebrew. Unfortunately, there were many older (likely Hebrew) stones that were significantly deteriorated, lying face down or mostly buried. Overall, the cemetery did not appear to have been purposely destroyed. When I get home I will translate the names and dates and donate the photos to the JewishGen Online World Burial Registry for posting.

There were several groups of stones at the far end of the cemetery. I photographed a few before it became plain that I would need waders to reach the rest. There was at least ankle deep standing water in the area. So, I abandoned the remainder of the effort, leaving probably a dozen stones (that I could see from afar) unrecorded. A few shots (the Russian ones show Rubenshtein and Kaplun family burials):

When I finished at the cemetery we toured a bit of the town. Most houses were of recent vintage, although a few might have had some age.

This one was not old, but I liked that it was colorful. The photo, unfortunately, does not do justice to the flower garden.

These stores (away from the traditional market area) seemed to be from the pre-WWII era.


  1. Emily, I'm happy to help you translate the Hebrew headstones. The one you posted, I can't quite make out all of it, but it says Ze'ev son of Moshe Yehudah and then the last name that is a little harder for me to make out but it's something like Shenielberg (not sure how you would spell it in English), died here and possibly a word before the year which is very hard to make out. If you want to send me the rest via e-mail, I'll see what I can do.

  2. The Hebrew tombstone reads Zeev ben Moshe Yehuda, but the last name is "Shpilberg" as in Steven Spielberg...there seems to be a chip on the letter "pey" and it was misread as "nun".

  3. Thank you, Rabbi Kupchik. Sometimes it takes several good minds to decipher the puzzle.


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