Summertime: cemetery clean-up notes (lots going on)

Student volunteers clean cemetery in Visegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Photo: courtesy Jasna Ciric

Student volunteers clean cemetery in Visegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Photo: courtesy Jasna Ciric


Jewish cemeteries rarely make the news except if there is an act of vandalism. But for every act of vandalism that gets reported, there are many more cases of Jewish cemeteries being cleaned up — by volunteer or other initiatives — or protectively fenced, by organizations such as the ESJF.

So many Jewish cemetery clean-up initiatives take place that it is difficult to keep track.

Here, then, is a compilation of just some of the operations that have already taken place this year, are planned, or are under way  — in Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Great Britain, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, The Netherlands….(we have already posted separately about some of them.)

You can still sign up to take part in some of them! 

And we realize that there are many more clean-up initiatives going on! Apologies to those left out!

In May, students from Albion College in the U.S. helped clean up the New Jewish Cemetery in Wroclaw, Poland — and made a video telling why it mattered. (Another volunteer initiative took place in the cemetery in June, see below).




Višegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina — February-March

Local highschool student volunteers cleaned up the small Jewish cemetery.

Berlin, Germany — March

A group of students from the University of Illinois cleaned up the memorial section where Jewish soldiers who fell in World War I are buried in the Weissensee Jewish cemetery

Staryi Sambir, Ukraine — August 8-13

Organized by the L’viv Volunteer Center as part of a project organized in cooperation with the city administration, the cemetery clean-up (taking place along with work on the former synagogue) will entail “taking photos of all gravestones with further description of them and publication in open sources.”

Chernivtsi, Ukraine — July 10-22

The 10th anniversary edition of the SVIT “work camp” — continuing years-long work in clearing and maintaining the vast Jewish cemetery. (There is also another volunteer action at the same time, see below.)

Warsaw — June 18

The 50th regular volunteer initiative to clean up the Okopowas St. Jewish cemetery took place.


Radauti, Romania — July

Students from Germany cleaned up 11 graves in the Jewish cemetery as part of a broader educational program.


he Aktion Suehnezeichnen (Action Reconciliation Service for Peace) NGO in Germany has scheduled  a number of cemetery clean-up “work camps” this summer, where volunteers work in cemeteries and also take part in sessions and meetings where they learn about local Jewish (and World War II/Holocaust) history. They include:

Wroclaw, Poland — June 10-24

Continuing several years of volunteer camps here, the aim was to focus on the old, larger part of the Jewish cemetery, which was still in use up to the end of the Second World War. It is unkempt and faced severe damage in places; the northern part is completely overgrown. In “Area 5” of the cemetery, work will begin by removing wood and branches, cleaning up and removing the growth of wild plants. The gravestones which have thus been cleared will be – as far as possible – set upright and repaired.


Jewish cemetery in Chernivtsi, Ukraine

Jewish cemetery in Chernivtsi, Ukraine


Chernivtsi, Ukraine — July 9-20

A volunteer camp for people aged 40 and up has taken place here since 2009. This year  work in the sprawling Jewish cemetery focuses on pulling up weeds and undergrowth, clearing overgrown paths between the graves and discovering forgotten inscriptions on the gravestones.

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, August 12-26

Participants will spend a large part of their time together doing maintenance work in the Jewish cemetery, including weeding, removing foliage, cleaning gravestones, and clearing paths.


In the Kozma utca Jewish cemetery, Budapest

In the Kozma utca Jewish cemetery, Budapest

Budapest, Hungary — July 16-30

In the city’s main Jewish cemetery, on Kozma utca, light gardening and maintenance to preserve and restore the sprawling cemetery complex and its tombstones.

Teplice, Czech Republic  — a cemetery clean-up and maintenance camp too place May 6-12

Plans were to finish the clearing, fencing and right-gravestones work that has been going on for several years.

Puclice, Czech Republic — a clean-up camp for people aged 40 and over took place May 9-17

— In addition, Action Reconciliation sponsored clean-up and other initiatives at several Holocaust memorials and former concentration camp sites in Germany.

Exeter, England — August 9-19

 Participants will carry out gardening work in the ancient Jewish cemetery hidden between modern buildings in the city.


In the Svencionys Jewish cemetery, Lithuania

Švenčionys, Lithuania — August 6-20

Continuing last year’s work preparing  information and material for the inventory process of the Jewish cemetery. The process cover the cleaning and tiding cemetery from debris and access of vegetation; digitisation and identifying coordinates of graves; identifying and copying legible inscriptions.

Deventer, Netherlands — July 1-15

Making the inscriptions on the gravestones in the Jewish cemetery visible again through light cleaning and garden work.




4 thoughts on “Summertime: cemetery clean-up notes (lots going on)

  1. And Przerosl in early July. Photos will be up on later this month when all the participants return from their overseas trips. Przerosl is in the Suwalki area in NE Poland. I have visited many cemeteries in the region. It’s one of the largest in the region among the smaller towns, the size of a football field, with 20 – 30 headstones present, having been restored by a non-Jewish native of the town 25 years ago.

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