Return to the Shtetl
A Photography Exhibition by Keith Levit
Asper Jewish Community Campus
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
"I thought these shtetls were gone."
of 1999, Linda and Keith Levit visited the towns in Ukraine where Keith's
grandparents lived. Baba Malke (Karasick) Levit lived in Pavolitch.
Zaida Velodie Levitus - later Levit - was born in Staviche and also
lived in Fastiv. Other than 105 Jews remaining in Fastiv, Jewish life
in the three towns has been reduced to tattered museum records and mass
grave sites from the war.
late 1970's, Levit visited the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv and looked
up the names of his grandparents'; villages - Fastiv, Pavolitch and
Staviche. According to the records, the towns were wiped out during
World War II. Levit left the museum and thought nothing more of the
villages. Until 1996.
visiting Poland on a March of the Living program four years ago, Levit
visited an office of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) where he saw
a weeping woman who had just discovered some sensitive family records
from the Holocaust.
curiosity aroused, he thought he'd once again look for the three villages.
Sure enough, the JAFI records indicated that the towns still existed.
"I thought these shtetls were gone," says Levit. It was then
that he decided that he must visit the towns - with his camera.
visited the towns, scanned records, spoke to elderly locals about his
family and took pictures.
"I wanted to recreate what it felt like for my Baba and Zaida to walk down the streets," explains Levit. "As a photographer, I feel the desire to capture on film everything that's important to me."