02 July 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: The Labun Cemetery

I wasn't sure there would even be a Jewish cemetery to record, so I was thrilled when Vladimir Miketavich Rak led us to the Labun (Yuroshchina) Jewish cemetery location. I mentioned my visit a little bit in a prior post.

Once I'd located a few of the tombstones on the slope, Rak excused himself to tend to the milking needs of his cow. He promised to return to lead us to the mass murder site in the nearby forest.

Scouting the Jewish cemetery was hot and mosquito-y. A thicket of trees covered the slope on which the cemetery was located and the clay soil was soaked after a few days of torrential rain. I was blown away that this cemetery, unlike several I'd seen on my journey, did not appear to have been vandalized. Benign neglect, had, however, taken its toll.

My goal was to photograph as many readable tombstones as I could. I probably should have also counted every tombstone, whether buried, face-down, eroded or readable, but I wasn't thinking that clearly. I was trying to complete my task and be ready to move on at Rak's return. I estimate there are 60 to 80 stones altogether. I photographed 22 and I estimate that 13 will ultimately be decipherable. I didn't really read any of them until I got home.

There are currently three villages in one: Novolabun, Yurovshchina (which, by the way I found out is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable) and Trojeshchina. The cemetery is actually located in Trojeshchina. On the Google aerial view below, the cemetery is located in the trees to the south of the red dot for Trojeshchina.

Since being home I've had a chance to review the photos of tombstones. Only two seem to have surnames. One in Hebrew letters seems to be either Faynel/Feinel or Paynel/Peinel (if anyone has any other ideas, please let me know - -  as a result of a comment [below], I've corrected the name to Feigel). 

Here lies
an important and modest woman Rachel
daughter of Meier
died 9 Adar 5669 [2 March 1909]
This does not seem to match up with any surname from Labun with which I am familiar (see surnames on the Yurovshchina webpage).

The second surnamed tombstone surprised me. It has both Hebrew and Cyrillic letters. In Cyrillic script, on the lower portion of the stone, it reads: Garber (!).

Now, I have no idea who Pesi Garber was. She died in 1932 and is identified on the tombstone as Pesi, daughter of Shlomo Zelman. The challenge here, of course, is that I do not know if she was born a Garber or married one. And, if she married a Garber, who? If she married, what was her maiden name? We know she died in 1932. When was she born?

This is really quite an interesting find (and makes all those mosquito bites worthwhile). I really had no idea if any Garbers were left in Labun after my great grandfather Avrum left in November 1922. All of Avrum's sons and the youngest of his three daughters were accounted for in the United States.  The two daughters who stayed in Europe, had married names of Giller and Zabarsky. Pesi Garber is a new mystery that cannot, for the moment, be solved.