The Times of Israel runs an article about the work of Michael Lozman, a New York orthodontist, who has led American students on projects to restore Jewish cemeteries in Belarus for more than a decade. He started with a personal project to restore the Jewish cemetery in his father’s village, Sopotskin.
The Latham, New York, resident realized he couldn’t upright dozens of tombstones and rehabilitate the site by himself, much less install a 2,000-foot-long perimeter fence and appropriate grave markers. He knew the project would require several trips to Belarus, in addition to cooperation from the people of Sopotskin and a lot of helping hands. […]
Soon after returning from his initial, “shocking” visit to Belarus, Lozman approached administrators at Dartmouth College and convinced them to offer the project to students during several consecutive summers. Students would study Jewish history in Eastern Europe and the Holocaust for a semester, culminating in a three-week stay in Belarus for the restoration, as well as tours of Jewish sites in Poland. […]
Since the first series of trips to restore his family’s cemetery, Lozman has led 11 groups of college students to rehabilitate other Belarusian cemeteries. His dream is to surround each threatened Jewish cemetery in Eastern Europe with a simple iron fence he designed featuring the Star of David, as well as to archive the names of Jews whose families never returned from the Holocaust to tend their graves. Each project is funded by the students themselves, who are tasked with raising up to $15,000 for the perimeter fence.
According to its web site, Lozman’s non-profit organization, the Restoration of European Jewish Cemeteries Project, has to dates restored 10 Jewish cemeteries in Belarus. The web site has before and after pictures.