March 15: 'Lost Town of Trochenbrod' subject of lecture
Avrom Bendavid-Val


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9:46 a.m., March 8, 2011----The Frank and Yetta Chaiken Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Delaware will present a lecture by Avrom Bendavid-Val, author of the book The Heavens Are Empty: Reliving the Lost Town of Trochenbrod, at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 15, in Room 103 Gore Hall.

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This event is free and open to the public.

Bendavid-Val's father grew up in Trochenbrod, a Jewish village in the western Ukraine, and though he didn't talk about it much, somehow he conveyed his love for his lost hometown.

The author traveled the world in his work as an economic development specialist, and in the mid-1990s decided to visit the site of Trochenbrod, which was destroyed and its residents slaughtered by the Nazis in 1941.

What he found -- and didn't find -- there caused him to become an impassioned researcher into Trochenbrod's history. His book was released to critical acclaim in October 2010.

The community began with a few Jewish settlers searching for freedom from the Russian czars' anti-Jewish edicts. At first, Trochenbrod was just a tiny row of houses built on empty marshland surrounded by the Radziwill Forest. Over the next 130 years it thrived and grew from a farming village into a bustling commercial center for Ukrainian, Polish, and Jewish villagers in the region and a supplier of goods to the surrounding cities.

This bustling all-Jewish town hidden in the forest came to an abrupt end in 1941 when those who lived there were slaughtered and their homes, buildings and factories were razed to the ground. Today, not a remnant can be found where this town once stood. Yet even the Nazis could not destroy the spirit of Trochenbrod, which has lived on in stories, legends, and even a song about this little piece of heaven hidden deep in the forest of northwest Ukraine.

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