Nata Holava, June 28, 2021, preparation for the expedition.

“In an empty hall of the library, I am looking at a book by Geoff Sifrin, нашчадка a descendant of African emigrants from Zembin. The book is in English. No one as translated it. I ask the librarian, “Have you read it yourself?” – “But it’s in English,” she replies. I ask whether there was a synagogue in Zembin. “Of course, we had a lot of Jews here!” – “And where was the synagogue?” – “Right here next to our building, opposite the bus stop. But nothing remained of her. A hardware store now stands on its foundation.” 

Well, I think, I’ll go to that place, maybe I’ll feel something there. It’s a synagogue, after all… I felt nothing, actually. A usual “kamok”, as small shopping pavilions were called in Barysaw in the 1990s. A “makeshift hut with goods”. Next to this “former Zembin synagogue hut” with no good, I felt something like a hole in the heart. 

I felt the same when, a few years ago, I saw for the first time a modest shelf dedicated to Izi Kharik in the Zembin Museum. A faded portrait, biographical information and a book in Yiddish standing upside down. Who would come there to visit Kharik and to put his book as it should be? 

I ask the museum worker, “How often do people come to you for Jewish history?” – “Not often. Previously, Jews from abroad came to their cemetery a couple of times a year, it is there, it became overgrown, of course… but now there is COVID, and no one came there this year.” 

… It feels like this Jewish part of the history of the former large town of Zembin is now all standing somewhere upside down in a corner, like there is a shelf provided for it, so what more could you ask for. Not in an evil or intentional way. This is just the place where it is now.”