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A photo of the beautiful city of Kiev taken on our vist in 1995

Saturday, April 22, 1995
We said goodbye to Borys Zavelsky in Lvov and drove to the airport to try and find our lost bags so that we could proceed to Kiev. Airport officials say the bags are here, but it is two hours later and we have not seen them yet. Slave, our driver, is waiting with me in the car and I can hear Miriam Weiner echoing in his words. He speaks virtually no English, but is trying to communicate with me and be nice, so he said "slep Kiev." What he was saying was we still have a long drive to Kiev after the baggage problem is solved. It is really cute how both Vitaly and Slava use the Jewish expressions they have learned from Miriam.

Three and a half hours after trying to get the bags, Alan & Vitaly emerged from the airport successfully. Alan said he had never seen such a scene; pushing, shoving, hollering and LOT Airlines saying "Ukrainian problem" and Ukrainian airport workers saying "LOT problem." Well, we have our bags so it is all forgotten.

We left Lvov for our seven hour drive to Kiev at 3:30PM. We bought bananas and oranges to supplement our "picnic" Vitaly had brought from the hotel.

At about 10:30PM we came up to the Kiev City sign. Dutifully as good students of Miriam, we stopped and took a picture. We checked into the Intourist Hotel and went down to their disco for a little snack, and believe it or not had pizza. We were all a little punchy by then, but we had our bags and we were in Kiev.

It is really wonderful that on this trip we do not have to handle money, pay any bills or take photographs or videos. We have no worries and Vitaly takes care of everything. This is a real treat for us and very easy to get used to.

Sunday, April 23, 1995
Our first day in Kiev. We set out about 11:AM to see some of the Jewish sites. First stop, the old Synagogue in the one time Jewish Quarter. It is now a puppet theater and we did not go in.

Next stop, the War Museum. An incredible place with magnificent sculptures and memorials outside. Inside a most interesting museum detailing WWII and with the best display that I have seen on this trip memorializing the Jewish people lost in the Holocaust. There was a guillotine on display that they said was used in the concentration camps. We never knew that this was done. The statue of "Mother Russia" in the park was quite a site. You can see it from many parts of Kiev. We were most impressed with this area.

Next we went to Babi Yar, the memorial to the Holocaust victims. Vitaly explained that the memorial was in the wrong place. When the sculptor found this out he built another small memorial where the Kiev Jews had actually been shot by the Germans and then put into a ditch. Ironically, next to this memorial is the smoke stack from the garbage dump. There are a few tombstones scattered near the memorial.

Back to the hotel. Vitaly talked to the restaurant about the dinner tonight for our relatives. I said I would love to have chicken Kiev. I had always heard that Chicken Kiev originated in Kiev. He said yes, but Alan said wait and see.

At six we met our Kiev relatives: Mark Zavelsky and his daughter Svetlana and Stanislav Zavelsky (Mark's nephew) and his wife Raz. All lovely, lovely people. Mark was very happy and thankful that we had found all the Zavelsky's and written the book. He is very intelligent and a very kind and quiet person. He was also thrilled with the Russian translation. I have a feeling that Mark is a person who has much more depth to him then appears on the surface. He is a construction engineer, involved in building bridges and evidently does not work steadily. I am certain that making a living is a great problem.

Mark was very intuitive and interested to know if the Zavelsky's kept in contact after finding and meeting one another. We liked Mark very much. Mark's daughter, Svetlana, is charming. She is 22 and works for the Israeli Embassy. Svetlana too, is trained as an engineer but cannot find work in that field. She has two friends who have immigrated to New York and we believe she would also like to immigrate. We noticed that Svetlana was wearing a Jewish Star. I asked her about Jewish life today in Kiev and she told me that the younger people are returning to religion.

Mark is also studying Hebrew. Stanislav and his wife are also very quiet and nice. He is soft spoken as is Mark. He is the son of Mark's brother Ilya who passed away several years ago. Stanislav and Svetlana call themselves "brother and sister." Stanislav and his wife and two year old son are moving to Germany, where Raz's family has also moved, to try to make a better life for themselves. They were all very interested in the family. Stanislav is a computer programmer and his wife a Russian language teacher. These are all loving, reserved and gentle people. We wish we could see them more often and hope that we can do something to help them. It is not our intention to meet them once and forget them in the future.

As I am writing now, we are listening to the memorial service for the people lost in the Oklahoma bombing this week. How ironic, we are here in Ukraine remembering the Holocaust victims and also seeing a memorial to needless loss of life in Oklahoma City.

Monday, April 24, 1995
Last night at dinner, Vitally had a major success ordering Chicken Kiev for all of us. To our amazement it was exactly what we had wanted. For us, it was our best dinner here.

We started out after breakfast and Vitaly had invited his friend Felix to be our Kiev guide. Our first stop was at Kiev's operating Jewish Synagogue where we met Rabbi Yakov Bleich. A thirty year old Rabbi from Brooklyn. He has been here with his family for five years. He is sponsored by the JDC. The Rabbi told us there are 100,000 Jews in Kiev and that there is a return to religion. The Temple was small and old but with beauty in its simplicity. It also has a day school. There was a Holocaust survivor there who wrote a book about the Jews of Kiev that he autographed for us.

We walked through the streets of what used to be the Jewish area and went to visit the famous monastery that has a city underground. Kiev is very hilly with many cobblestone streets. Lunch was in a restaurant in the park along the Dneiper River. My lunch was great - Blini with red caviar. After lunch, we stopped in to see a bazaar where they sold fruits and vegetables. The produce was excellent looking. We bought bananas, oranges and grapefruits.

Back to the hotel and dinner. We were exhausted from walking up and down the hills. The churches in this city are very beautiful with their glistening gold copula's. Quite sight to see.

Tomorrow is off to Nezhin, Sosnitsa and Glukhov, the ancestral towns of my grandparents and great grandparents.

Alan and Marjorie at the Baba Yar Memorial in Kiev...1995
Alan and Marjorie at the second Baba Yar Memorial in Kiev... 1995
Formerly a synagogue in Kiev. Now a puppet theater
Our Kiev family reunion photo...Mark Zavelsky, Svetlana Zavelsky, Marjorie, Alan, Stanislav Zavelsky and his wife Raz...1995
Svetlana and Marjorie on the ferry to see The Statue of Liberty during her visit to the U.S.
Mark Zavelsky and his wife Irina shortly before his death in 1999
A View of the beautiful Synagogue in Kiev...1995
Marjorie and Alan with the chief Rabbi of Kiev, who was from Brooklyn...1995
Vitally and Marjorie in Kiev
Ilya Zavelsky, son of Stanislav and Raz Zavelsky....Germany c. 1997
To see additional Kiev pictures, click here.