Regarding your article, “Wanna Buy A Historic Shul In Poland?” (March 4), almost 15 years ago I joined approximately 100 family members and friends — survivors of a shtetl in Galicia (now Ukraine), along with their children and grandchildren, from North America and Israel — on a journey to dedicate a monument in the killing field where their Jewish community was finally and completely liquidated. Or so the Nazis and their local henchmen thought.
In the late 1990s, this town had goats and chickens roaming the streets and almost no electricity or indoor plumbing. The survivors said it had regressed from what they remembered during the 1940s when they last saw it.
While we were there, a townsman showed us a volume of Talmud from before the war and offered to sell it for $100. Over my strong objection — after all, the Talmud did not belong to that person so how could he dare to sell it to us — a cousin of mine bought it.
The Jewish cemetery had been made into a soccer field, and there was an open ditch revealing Jewish bones. Gravestones were piled around a track that surrounded the soccer field. Other gravestones were used to pave sidewalks.
While we were there, the municipality hosted a “reception” — some herring and vodka — in the town hall, which itself did not have indoor plumbing. The municipality then offered us the “opportunity” to purchase the onetime Great Synagogue, which had been converted to a plastics factory (a failed enterprise). For $100,000 we were told we could “save” it from becoming a supermarket.
Playing on people’s emotions in that vast Jewish graveyard is not new, but it is distastefully manipulative and a desecration of the memory of those sacred Jewish souls.
Thank you for reporting on it, and please continue to deliver this important message.