We are used to pained and evocative — even shocked and/or outraged — descriptions of abandoned Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.
In an article this week, the Los Angeles Times echoes these sentiments to describe an abandoned Jewish cemetery in East Los Angeles as “a dystopian landscape of toppled tombstones that no one seems to own.”
The article recounts a visit to Mt. Zion Jewish cemetery in East L.A. with Robert Adler Peckerer, the director of Yiddishkayt, an organization dedicated to preserving the Yiddish language and culture. Adler-Peckerer was searching for the grave of the Yiddish writer Lamed Shapiro, who died a pauper in L.A. in 1948.
Walking down a winding asphalt road scabbed with dirt, weeds and a shag carpet of dried cypress leaves, the 38-year-old saw that hundreds of tombstones were on the ground, some lying like small, toppled Stonehenges.
On one tomb, a vandal scrawled a cryptic graffiti: “Here lies Horse. RIP.”
[…] Shapiro’s tombstone, in the shape of an open book, had rolled to the ground like a decapitated head but, by a stroke of fortune, landed face-up.
The article provides a fascinating account of history, changing demographics, abandonment, lack of resources, lack of interest….