“The Heavens Are Empty : Exploring the Lost Town of Trochenbrod”



Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance) Day

I beg you hold fast to these words of mine.

After this darkness a light will shine

Sunday, May 1, 2011

VIP Tour ~ Library/Archive Research ~ Lecture

Museum of Tolerance

9786 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035

Featured Lecture at 2:30 PM:

with author, Avrom Bendavid-Val

Plus these options:

10:30 AM – Wiesenthal Library Open for Research

10:45 AM – Docent-lead VIP Tour of the new MOT Exhibits

1:00 PM – Kosher Lunch at the Wiesenthal Library

10:30AM – 2:00PM – Research at the MOT-Wiesenthal Library & Archives

This repository (across the street from the MOT) holds a remarkable collection of photographs, diaries, letters, artifacts, artwork and rare books. You can drop by any time to view their resources and get help from their staff.  To pre-order yizkor books from this collection search here: http://swcdap.legalinformationmanagement.com/, then click: Search the Library Catalog (books and media) and enter town name under “keyword” or try the search terms “yizkor” or “memorial” and click on “SUBMIT QUERY” at the left bottom of page.  (Don’t click on BROWSE.) (Note: many books are only in Hebrew or Yiddish, not English.  Check carefully!)

If you find a book for your town to request, or if you need help searching, please email Adaire Klein – aklein@wiesenthal.net .  Requests must be submitted via email prior to 5:00PM on April 27. Kosher lunch available for pre-purchase, will be served in the library boardroom so you don’t need to interrupt your work.  (details below.) While a reservation is required to book a lunch, no reservation necessary to research at the library.  PLEASE DIRECT ALL RESEARCH AND YIZKOR BOOK QUESTIONS DIRECTLY TO ADAIRE KLEIN. aklein@wiesenthal.net.  Direct all luncheon reservations to: pweisberger@gmail.com

10:45AM – 1:00PM – V.I.P. Tour of Museum Exhibits – $10 per person (please gather at the tour site by 10:30AM)tour-300x200

This docent-lead tour will include one of the newest additions to the MOT’s permanent collection — Simon Wiesenthal’s Vienna office, re-created with original documents, artifacts, furniture and books, is the setting for a multimedia presentation on his the life and legacy. The tour will include We the People, an animated visual history wall telling the story of this country through themes that have shaped the American experience for 400 years. You’ll also get a sneak preview of the new photographic exhibit that officially opens May 2 entitled Besa: Albanian Muslims Who Saved Jews During WWII. Reservations required. There is only limited space and this tour will fill quickly! Contact pweisberger@gmail.com to make a reservation.  There is a $10 per person charge for the tour. Pay at the door. Reserve a spot by sending an email to:  pweisberger@gmail.com.  Put MOT TOUR in the subject line.

KOSHER LUNCH: 1:00PM at the Wiesenthal Library – $10 (approx) per person – reserve your selection prior to April 27 by email

You can select from several choices of sandwiches and salads. $7.50 plus tax includes one selection and a drink of your choice, with the option to add chips or a muffin for a small additional fee.  To view the menu CLICK HERE.  Please email pweisberger@gmail.com with your choices by April 27.

(Note: there is also a kosher café on site at the MOT.  You can tour their exhibits independently and eat there at any time.  No reservations required. Note that regular museum hours on Sunday are 11:00AM – 5:00PM.  Anyone with tour reservations will be admitted at 10:30AM, but all others must wait until 11:00AM.  For more MOT info go to: www.museumoftolerance.com or phone: 310-553-8403.  If you want to book a tour on your own they strongly advise making reservations in advance.

2:30PM – 3:30PM – Presentation:Exploring the Lost Town of Trochenbrod” with Avrom Bendavid-Val –  Book sale & signing prior to and after the talk. Limited seating, reserve now by emailing Pamela Weisberger at pweisberger@gmail.com.

In the 19th century, nearly five million Jews lived in the Pale of Settlement. Most lived in shtetls—Jewish communities connected to larger towns—images of which are ingrained in popular imagination as the shtetl Anatevka from Fiddler on the Roof. Brimming with life and tradition, family and faith, these shtetls existed in the shadow of their town’s oppressive anti-Jewish laws. Not Trochenbrod.

Trochenbrod was the only freestanding, fully realized Jewish town in history. It began with a few Jewish settlers searching for freedom from the Russian Czars’ oppressive policies, which included the forced conscriptions of one son from each Jewish family household throughout Russia. At first, Trochenbrod was just a tiny row of houses built on empty marshland in the middle of the Radziwill Forest, yet for the next 130 years it thrived, becoming a bustling marketplace where people from all over the Ukraine and Poland came to do business. But this scene of ethnic harmony was soon shattered, as Trochenbrod vanished in 1941—her residents slaughtered, her homes, buildings, and factories razed to the ground. Yet even the Nazis could not destroy the spirit of Trochenbrod, which has lived on in stories and legends about a little piece of heaven, hidden deep in the forest.

Bendavid-Val, himself a descendant of Trochenbrod, masterfully preserves and fosters the memory of this city, celebrating the vibrant lives of her people and her culture, proving true the words of one of Trochenbrod’s greatest poets, Yisrael Beider: I beg you hold fast to these words of mine. After this darkness a light will shine.


Avrom Bendavid-Val worked as an expert in economic development and environmental management in America and in poor countries for 45 years. During his career he traveled and worked in many countries in Africa, Asia,  East and Central Europe, and the Middle East, and published several books in his field. In 1997, while working in Poland, he decided to visit the site of the vanished town his father and grandfather came from, Trochenbrod, Ukraine. He was gripped by the experience, became an impassioned researcher into the 130-year history of the town, and eventually wrote The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town of Trochenbrod to share what he found with a broad audience. Avrom lives with his wife, Leah, in Washington, D.C.

Directions to the museum:  note that the Wiesenthal library is across the street from the Museum on the northwest corner of Pico and Roxbury.)

Museum of Tolerance
Simon Wiesenthal Plaza
9786 West Pico Blvd (southeast corner of Pico Boulevard and Roxbury Drive)
Los Angeles, CA 90035

General Information: 310-553-8403