08 June 2013

Kolomyya, 8 June 2013

Kolomyya is a convenient base from which to explore the Liebross and Wenkert communities of Ustechko, Torskie,and Zaleszczyki. But, it's really more than that. Kolomyya first came to my attention a few years ago when I was trying to determine how Benjamin Weingart, furrier in New York City, was related to my Wenkerts and Etts. Starting with some evidence from a World War I Draft Registration record, I had determined that as a young man, David Ett (my grandmother Tillie Liebross Wilson's first cousin) had worked for Benny, whose surname had previously been Wenkert. Via a family tree on the Geni website I'd located an descendant of Benny's who recalled the Liebross name, but also could not say how my Liebrosses and his Wenkerts might be related.

Further research and records from the Warsaw Archive (via JRI-Poland) led me to Abraham Lieb Wenkert (Benny's brother), his marriage in 1898 to Chancie Sonenreich, and the birth of their children (Gittel in 1898, Frieda in 1900, and Izaak in 1902) in Kolomya. I still do not know how we are related, but I'm hoping to gather information on this trip that may eventually become the evidence that helps solve the mystery.

We left Lviv this morning with our guide Svetlana and driver Vassily and drove several hours over some of the same rough roads that had taken us to Yaremcha this past Tuesday. This time, however, I am pleased to report that we passed several road crews not only patching, but also repaving portions of the road. Still, it was often slow going.

After borschch and varenikas in Kolomyya, we walked the neighborhoods near the city center. The Jerusalem Synagogue at the corner of Pekarska and Valova Streets was holding services. 

Svetana explained that prior to World War II, the city was a vibrant amalgam of Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian cultures. Ukrainians were actually in the minority in the population. Afterwards, few Jewish natives of Kolomyya survived. Those who did, left the area. Poles were expelled. Ukrainians from the countryside moved to Kolomyya. Today, that vibrant diversity that fueled life in the city can no longer be experienced.

Photo below: former location of a mezzuzah on the door post of a house a few doors down from the Jerusalem Synagogue.

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