Where to begin?  The trip was amazing and I cannot thank you enough for connecting us with Sasha.  From the moment we arrived in Ivano Frankivsk, Sasha was our guide, translator, companion and comrade in experiencing this genealogy journey.  He let us linger when we needed to fully experience the moment and he kept us moving so as not to miss anything. The trip started out as a genealogical journey but ended up being so much more as we learned how this area was affected by the Holocaust.  I had done extensive reading prior to going so I had some idea what to expect. However, my wife, Ellie, was mostly unaware of the events in these towns and was extremely affected by the degree of devastation that occurred during World War II.

Our trip started and ended in Ivano Frankivsk.  We were honored to meet Rabbi Kolesnik at the end of our trip and appreciated the treasure trove of documents he produced for us.  We took pictures of 311 pages of documents and it will take months to review it all.

In Kolomyia, we were fortunate to meet with Yasha, head of the Jewish community there.  We were extremely impressed with all Yasha is doing in Kolomyia to keep alive memories of Jewish life and history.  Our guide, Solomea was wonderful and took us to see all the major Jewish sites.  We enjoyed some free time in Kolomyia, as well.

In Horodenka, our guide, Ivan, gave us a wonderful tour around the town and took us to meet his grandfather, who participated in a research book on Horodenka.  We scanned the pages for documents and statistics. We learned the book is available in the New York Public Library.  We viewed the exterior of the old synagogue and walked through the Jewish cemetery, where, it is possible, some of my ancestors are buried.

We got to experience the “wonderful” Ukrainian roads on our trip from Horodenka to Obertyn.  Sasha had arranged for Julia to guide us around.  Julia introduced us to the story of Sonia Sorger, who was 7 years old when World War II began and survived the war even though the rest of her family perished.  Sonia is now known as Krystyna Carni and she published her memoirs recently.  I have already finished the book and Krystyna and I are now friends on Facebook.  She can provide eye witness accounts of what Obertyn was like in the 1930’s and 40’s.

The other incredible experience was the memorial established by Bogdan Stanislawski that Julia brought us to.  Mr. Stanislawski is a Ukrainian businessman, who, with his own money, recovered Jewish headstones used as the foundation for a barn and set them up in a memorial adjacent to the old cemetery. This was one of the most moving moments of our trip.

From Obertyn to Khotymyr, where we were guided around by a local schoolteacher/historian.  One of the highlights of our visit here was seeing the property where my great grandfather lived with his family from about 1890 to 1902.

Our final stop for the day  (yes, we did this all in one day thanks to Sasha’s planning and motivation) was Ivanivtsi, where we met with Mayor Vasyl, Vasyl’s mother and Nikolai, the town historian, who is 87.  They welcomed us and opened up numerous town resources.  Another highlight was seeing the name of my great great grandmother’s family on a list of 1825 taxpayers in the town.

We began our last day in Ukraine with a last minute walk around Kolomyia.  We then proceeded to ivano Frankivsk where we met our guide, Andrey.  He brought us to the rabbi and then continued the tour afterward. Just like the others, he was a pleasure to be with.

I know we tried to pack a lot into a few days but Sasha expertly pulled it together.  Besides being a great tour guide he was a good friend.  We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him. I would highly recommend his services to anybody considering a similar tour of the area.

As I mentioned earlier, I am busy putting together all the information from the trip. I plan to write up a travelog of the various places and attach the pictures.  I am hoping to present it to various genealogical groups to which I belong and possibly my synagogue.  I will be submitting my pictures to the town sites on Jewishgen.org.

Thank you again.  I am would be thrilled to recommend your services to anybody planning a similar trip to Ukraine.

J.A. , NY, USA

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