Rabbi says he found trash and bone fragments at Jewish mass graves in Ukraine

(JTA) – A rabbi from Washington, D.C., said he and his children encountered trash and bone fragments scattered around the grounds of two former mass graves of Jews in Ukraine.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Sholom-The National Synagogue documented on Facebook his family visit last month to the grounds of what used to be the Janowska camp in Lviv. The visitors found countless needle syringes at the neglected grounds, where drug addicts and homeless people get in through the poorly constructed perimeter fence.

“In just two minutes, everybody has a handful of trash, and bones were found, and we’re going to go back right there and rebury the bones and then recite a Kaddish,” the Jewish mourning prayer, he told the camera.

Herzfeld said the trip was aimed at getting to know the area’s Jewish roots, but that the posts about the mass graves were designed to raise awareness to the neglect of Jewish graves and mass graves in Ukraine.

“Usually when one goes to a cemetery, we place a stone on the grave as a sign that we care. This time we all took two pieces of garbage and placed them in a trash bag before leaving,” he wrote.  Janowska, he added, “has become a place of litter and drug addicts.”

At the Sosenki Memorial near Rivne, where thousands of Jews were killed in 1941, Herzfeld said his family encountered freshly dug soil at the mass grave where the perpetrators dumped the victims. He suggested the digging was the work of grave robbers seeking valuables.

“The hole was supposed to have been covered, but grave looters came the day before we got there and looted the grave and left an open hole and exposed bones all around the hole,” he wrote.

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