A ceremony May 31 officially rededicated the historic Jews’ Gate (Old) Jewish cemetery in Gibraltar after it was cleaned and renovated.
The UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis attended the ceremony, along with other dignitaries including the President of the Gibraltar Hebrew Community James Levy and the Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo, who unveiled a plaque.
The cemetery, also known as the Windmill Hill Jewish cemetery, is located on Windmill Hill in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. It includes the oldest Jewish graves in Gibraltar, with the earliest known dating from 1746. It ceased to be used in 1848.
The gravestones are mainly horizontal, in the Sephardic style, and many noted rabbis are buried here. A raised pathway leads over the graves.
According to an article by Rabbi Roni Hassid on the Gibraltar Jewish Community web site:
Until recently, many of the graves were covered over with mud and peat. Those are the best preserved. Others that were exposed to the elements have become illegible, and many of the stones have crumbled.
During the winter and spring months, the vegetation is allowed to grow rapidly and profusely giving the impression of neglect. In fact, the place is the favourite mating ground of the rare Barbary partridge and it is in deference to the Ornithological Society that the vegetation is left until after the nesting season. Lag BaOmer sees the traditional annual pilgrimage to the tombs of the Tsadikim (Righteous people) and by then the shrubs have usually been cleared.
Gibraltar also has an extensive “new” Jewish cemetery, the North Front cemetery.