Tetiev, Day Five: June 16, 2016
Just some notes and photos today.1. Father Taras asked us yesterday if Jews in synagogues in America curse Tetiev during their services. Apparently, there’s the perception that American Jews blame the non-Jewish Ukrainians in Tetiev for what happened during the pogrom and still curse them for it. I told him I’d never heard of that — he said, “Thank God” — and was very relieved.
I said I would ask if any of the people on our Facebook page who attended Tetiever Shul every heard of such a thing. Please comment on the post if you have.
2. There’s also a belief that Jews who were from here say “May no grass grow on your fields in Tetiev,” which is a wish for them to be well tended, I think. Or, I misheard it and the saying was “May grass grow on your fields in Tetiev.” So much for translation. Editor’s note: We later heard this is more like a curse, as in “may nothing grow in your fields.”
3. Dogs and cats are treated very differently from ours. Many dogs follow their owners as they walk up town. They always seem purposeful and busy doing something. They are very street wise and car savvy. They are almost universally small, probably less than 25 pounds and most have short legs, as if their ancestors were Dachsunds.
4. The local newspaper has published several articles on the pogrom and is trying to add names to the list of victims from the “Tetiever Khurbn” article. If any of your relatives died in the pogrom and they’re not listed, please let me know. The mayor also told us today they’re searching for a photo of the synagogue from the pogrom, or some kind of drawing that shows what it actually looked like.
5. Part of the reason Jews were the target of the pogroms was because they were typically merchants of some kind and had relatively more available to steal than the local peasants. In Tetiev, Oleksandr Oberemok has worked to locate individual businesses owned by Jews in the old town centre.
We typically start with some kind of soup. All have potatoes and a mix of vegetables and meat. Today’s was a kind of red borscht with what tasted like corned beef and cabbage mixed in. Next, a tomato, onion and cucumber salad with a light dressing, or a cole slaw-type salad with dill. Next comes a plate of some kind of potatoes with a breaded meatball. We’ve also had veronicas (like pierogies) and latkes. Svitlana said that even though Jews eat latkes for Hannukah, the Ukrainians claim them as an ethnic food.
Breakfast is a little different. We’ve had cheese blintzes most days, but also “sandwiches,” which are pieces of bread with a couple of slices of sausage covered in melted cheese. Also, hot tea or coffee at the end of the meal. No water with dinner — of course, we could ask for it. There’s also very little ice or refrigeration of drinks here. They are mostly served at room temperature.
8. Oleksandr Oberemok showed us around the edges of town today to help us find scenic overlook spots to photograph the city. He was especially helpful in pointing out where the synagogue was located.
„Their outhouse is not like the old kind in the U.S. where someone dug a new home for it every so often and moved the little building.“
9. Hope this isn’t indelicate, but I know when people travel they always have questions about the facilities. Bathrooms here are, well, interesting. At our hotel, it’s just like at home, although we don’t flush the toilet paper. The systems can’t handle it. The toilets are two button flushes, like many in Europe.
Public toilets are few and far between, and often not very inviting. We’ve seen a couple now that are basically holes in the floor of the room with a porcelain strip about a foot wide on each side for where you stand. Some of the smaller public restrooms we’ve seen, like the one at city hall, are unisex stalls with a common sink area. So much for the gender neutral bathroom debate. Everyone here shares already.
Myhailo Sabadash and his wife, Nina, have an outhouse at their home. Sabadash is the artist and historian we visited yesterday — he’s painted many scenes in and around Tetiev, including the Jewish cemetery. He also wrote an illustrated history of Tetiev that is commonly given out to tourists.
He turned 87 this week — I asked him if anyone in town was older than him and might remember farther back than him. He laughed and said “No, the others all drink and smoke so they die young.”
Their outhouse is not like the old kind in the U.S. where someone dug a new home for it every so often and moved the little building. This one sounds like it stays put, but a truck comes and pumps out the contents. Sort of like a septic tank without the leach bed or drainage field system. It actually sounds like what we call a pit latrine. Many of the houses have running water, or pumps to bring in water from a well. The Sabadash’s have an old-fashioned well in their neighborhood — yes, a real, 38-kilometer-deep, crank the handle a bunch of times and watch-the-bucket-come-up-on-the-chain kind of well. The water was cool and delicious.
9. We drove in and around town this morning with our Osmo gyroscopic camera on the van. An OSMO is a stabilized, hand-held video camera, kind of like a small steadycam. It lets photographers shoot as they move without a tripod. You can see an example here: http://www.dji.com/product/osmo For the second pass, we opened the side door of the van and shot with the Osmo hanging out the side. There was a lot of staring.
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