Buchach-Jerusalem: A bridge of inspiration for new Ukrainian literature

Sofia Andrukhovych, a rising star of Ukrainian prose, participated in a unique project in the two house-museums where the future Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Shmuel Yosef Agnon lived. Buchach, in Galicia, and then Jerusalem in Israel, offered inspiring locations for her writing.

Both opportunities were supported by the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.

Writing residencies of Sofia Andrukhovych, Andriy Lyubka, and Eugenia Senik in Buchach resulted in a jointly-written book of essays entitled The Key in the Pocket, a work informed by themes of Agnon’s creativity.

Andrukhovych visited Israel at the end of October 2018 to present this book in translation into Hebrew and English. In fact, this was a historic occasion in Ukrainian-Israeli cultural relations as the book is the first translation of contemporary Ukrainian prose writers into Hebrew.

For Andrukhovych and Mariana Maksymiak, director of the Agnon Literary Center in Buchach, a visit to the Agnon house-museum on the outskirts of Jerusalem became a form of “closing the circle.” This visit was similar to the creation of a cultural bridge that linked the writer’s hometown in Ukraine with the most holy city for the Jewish people.

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, Sofia Andrukhovych, and Mariana Maksymiak in Agnon’s writing room in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, research director at the Agnon House, showed the guests from Ukraine the private rooms of the great writer, his library, and the table at which he worked. This tour made a powerful impression on Andrukhovych and Maksymiak.

The Israeli participants in the presentation of the Hebrew edition of The Key in the Pocket at the Agnon museum asked Andrukhovych numerous questions about the Ukrainian roots of the writer’s work, and about the history and the present of Buchach. An Israeli couple attended this evening just to learn about Ukraine for the first time.

The next day, after the presentation in Jerusalem, Andrukhovych met with readers at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Tel Aviv. The guest of the evening was the Ambassador of Ukraine to Israel, Hennadii Nadolenko, who stressed the vital importance of strengthening cultural ties and interaction between the Ukrainian and Jewish peoples.

Sofia Andrukhovych met with readers at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Tel Aviv.

While visiting Agnon’s house in Jerusalem, Andrukhovych took into her hands the Nobel diploma of the great Jewish writer, which he received in Sweden in 1966. I will allow myself to express the hope that this powerful charge of literary energy and deep creativity from Agnon will help Sofia Andrukhovych also receive in the future the highest literary award—for works in the Ukrainian language.

Mariana Maksymiak and Sophia Andrukhovych with Agnon’s Nobel Prize diploma.

Presentation of “A Key in the Pocket” with Sofia Andrukhovych, Mariana Maksymiak, Rabbi Jeffrey Saks at the Agnon House in Jerusalem, 24 October 2018. (in English).

00:0004:40
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, Research Director at the Agnon House.

04:4106:24
Mariana Maksymiak, Director of the Agnon Literary Center in Buchach, Ukraine.

06:2522:01
Sofia Andrukhovych, Ukrainian writer.

22:0238:45
Conversation between Sofia Andrukovych, Mariana Maksymiak and Rabbi Jeffrey Saks.

38:46-end
Question and answer.

Presentation of the book “A Key in the Pocket” with Sofia Andrukhovych and Mariana Maksymiak at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Bat Yam (Tel Aviv), 25 October 2018. (in Ukrainian) 

00:0002:32
Ambassador of Ukraine to Israel Hennadii Nadolenko.

02:3306:24
Mariana Maksymiak, Director of the Agnon Literary Center in Buchach, Ukraine.

06:2509:57
Presentation of short film, “A Guest for the Night” by Oleksandr Fraze-Frazenko, produced by the Agnon Literary Center.

09:5812:24
Mariana Maksymiak, Director of the Agnon Literary Center in Buchach, Ukraine.

12:2524:39
Sofia Andrukhovych, Ukrainian writer.

24:4027:47
Mariana Maksymiak, Director of the Agnon Literary Center in Buchach, Ukraine.

27:4840:05
Reading and commentary by Sofia Andrukhovych, Ukrainian writer.

40:06 to end
Discussion between Ukrainian writer Sofia Andrukhovych and Mariana Maksymiak, Director of the Agnon Literary Center in Buchach, Ukraine.

Ukrainian writer Sofia Andrukhovych: Reflections on Israel, Jaffa, 26 October 2018. (in Ukrainian)

Text and photo: Shimon Briman (Israel).
Edited by Peter Bejger.
Videos and additional photos: Natalia A. Feduschak.