group portrait with sign

Tetiev, Epilogue

This will probably be my last post from the trip, unless I put up something after we visit Auschwitz on Tuesday.

Some of the things that will stick with me from Tetiev:

  1. The local food production. All the locavores at home should take a lesson from these folks. There are patches of potatoes, mixed with dill plants, all over the place. Cucumbers, strawberries, sorrel, flowers, cabbage are for sale at the market, all grown in someone’s yard and carried to the town center. All day long, we saw people walking to their patch of garden carrying hoes and rakes. Every house has a kitchen garden, at least. Almost everyone keeps chickens. Some folks have a cow or two for milking they pasture at the side of the roadway or in public fields. There are lots of goats, too.

    I would say the majority of trees planted here bear some kind of fruit or nut. We’ve seen cherries, walnuts and apples. Everywhere.

    There are also beautiful Linden trees planted in rows — they’re flowering now and the blossoms are being collected to make tea.

  2. The friendly people. Svitlana commented in the car that she has been in many towns, visited many mayors’ offices and talked with many local people in Ukraine. Tetiev, she said, was among the friendliest. Once they knew why we were here, it was a very welcoming place.

  3. How long the notoriety of the pogrom has weighed on Tetiev. Our impression from all our conversations is that it was the event that identified the town in the larger Ukrainian community for years. The Jewish community was destroyed and never fully returned. It was, in effect, a pre-Holocaust, similar to those events visited upon other towns in Ukraine during WWII.

    People avoided the area as if it bore a black mark, as if the people there were inherently bad. My hope in telling the story of this place is that it illuminates what happened in Tetiev in some way, helps grow understanding and provides healing.

    As Hippocrates said, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”


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