And so it has come to pass that we are back in the land of our forefathers, the land of the shtetl, the place where our ancestors played the fiddle and struggled to survive.

We took the scenic route from Sumy to Konotop, setting off into the Ukrainian countryside in search of Jews whom no one knows of, Jews living in villages whose names you and I will neither be able to pronounce nor remember. When I say village, my friend, I do not mean Hoboken. The villages that we passed through have neither roads nor telephones but do have many chickens, and all the water comes from wells. They are places where people speak a strange hybrid of Ukrainian and Russian, and where Ivan the Village Drunkard is a real person.

All that is missing from the storybooks we read as children are the Jews. They either were killed or they fled to the bigger cities years ago. And our job is to find the few that are left.

Most of the peasants that we met did not have much information for us. But somehow, after passing through one village festival, getting stuck on a seemingly endless dirt road and presenting a villager with a Laffy Taffy, we got the name of one lone Jew and we planned to visit him on the return trip.

When we finally arrived in Konotop on Sunday night, we held a beautiful farbrengen with the Konotop community. In the morning, we held services. For anyone who has never heard of Konotop, listen to me. If you ever want to meet a group of goodhearted, warm Jews, go to Konotop. Don't just take it from me. Ask anyone who has been there.

Well, on our way back to Sumy, we stopped again in a village to follow the lead that a peasant woman had given us. We had just pulled up in front of a little hut when we were greeted by a rather rude Ukrainian woman. She was the ex-wife of the Jew we sought, and told us to leave him alone because he is a bad man. In any case, it was getting rather late, so we thanked her and told her that we'd be back later in the week. We're going to drop by there again on Wednesday, G‑d willing.

What more is there to tell? Ah, yes, when we got back to our apartment, we accidentally entered the wrong code to turn the alarm system off and had to explain that to two machine-gun wielding Ukrainian security personnel.