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A Photographer Follows the Footsteps of Her Jewish Grandparents in the Ukraine

Posted by on January 11, 2018 | Photographer Interviews, Student Photography


A second year MFA student in visual arts at Columbia University, Jacqueline Silberbush first became interested in the town where her Jewish grandparents were from in the Ukraine a few years ago. In the summer of 2017, she returned to their birthplace in an attempt to uncover what memories had been lost or erased in the wake of the Holocaust.

“The most surprising thing was how little people knew about what had happened but how interested they were in learning,” Silberbush said. “The people that I stayed with barely knew anything about Jewish life in the towns they lived in, but became super interested in helping and traveling with me along the way to learn more.”

The resulting images, which Silberbush has entitled “Hunting Memory,” are a collection that juxtaposes ordinary life in contemporary Ukraine with evidence of past violence. Most heartbreaking of all are the images that capture recent outbursts of anti-Semitic sentiment on public monuments.

To view images from the series, see below, or visit Jacqueline Silberbush’s website. All images © Jacqueline Silberbush.


Abandoned Jewish cemetery. Buchach, Ternopil’s’ka oblast


Villagers watch a wedding celebration. Perevoloka, Ternopil’s’ka oblast


A bride at Terebovlia castle getting ready for her wedding pictures. Terebovlia, Ternopil’s’ka oblast


A Jewish mezuzah indentation on an old door frame. Buchach, Ternopil’s’ka oblast


A swastika carved into a tree. Lviv, Ternopil’s’ka oblast


A man in the Brodsky Synagogue, one of the last active Jewish communities. Kiev


Mass Grave. Kopychyntsi, Ternopil’s’ka oblast


Girl on the road. Kopychyntsi, Ternopil’s’ka oblast


Etchings left by Jews who hid in Verteba Cave during the war. Bilche Zolote, Ternopil’s’ka oblast