The European Union has awarded a grant of €800,000 to the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (ESJF) to map and survey at least 1,500 Jewish cemeteries in five countries in eastern, east-central, and south-eastern Europe: Greece, Moldova, Slovakia, Lithuania and Ukraine.
An ESJF won competition for an EU tender that was announced in June. An ESJF statement said the survey work will begin this month on the project, which is formally called “Pilot project – Protecting the Jewish cemeteries of Europe: A full mapping process with research and monitoring and individual costed proposals for protection.”
The ESJF statement said the project “is to fully survey all these sites, provide them with physical protection and to regularly monitor their condition. Moreover, the project will create ready-made and fully-costed construction models leading to physical protection projects in the coming years.”
All the material is planned to be uploaded online for public access.
The statement said:
The mapping process, to be undertaken using state of the art technology specially designed for the project, involves engineering drones surveying and photographing the sites from the air, following an in-depth historical research process of centuries–old records across many countries and languages.
In addition, it said, it would foster efforts to engage local populations in “ownership” of the sites,
incorporating them psychologically and physically as an integral part of their own local heritage and leading to their long-term protection. A strong collaboration with local and regional governments as well as the local population through awareness raising campaigns and educational programmes is therefore mandatory for the prevention of desecration of the holy burial sites.
The ESJF is a German-based international non-profit foundation that has received annual funding from the government of the Federal Republic of Germany since its foundation in 2015. To date it has erected fences or other enclosures to protect more than 120 Jewish cemeteries in seven central and eastern European countries, mostly in the towns and villages where Jewish communities were wiped out in the Shoah.
The EU-funded mapping project “takes cemetery protection and the preservation of the historical record into the 21st century with the use of the engineering drones and the real-time transmission of data across the iCloud, thereby enabling all material to be fully and immediately accessible to the experts who will analyse it and utilise it for potential rescue and protection projects,” Philip Carmel, ESJF Chief Executive Officer, said in the ESJF statement. “We believe in complete public online access to this historical information as a key resource not only of Jewish heritage but of European heritage. The involvement of the European Union in this project is therefore a major factor in its recognition of the importance of maintaining this.”
In our post in June announcing the tender, we provided details of the project parameters, which we repost here:
On 21 March 2018, the European Commission adopted the Annual Work programme for the implementation of Pilot Projects and Preparatory Actions in the area of education, sport and culture. The work programme foresees a pilot project aimed at conducting a broad sample survey of at least 1500 Jewish cemeteries in selected European countries, identifying good practices of their preservation as well as proposing a model for their successful safeguarding.
The action should contribute to the momentum built up by the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 through dissemination and awareness raising of the European value of heritage and cultural diversity of Europe.
SCOPE: OBJECTIVES, THEMES, PRIORITIES
The general objective of the pilot project is to conduct a broad sample survey (hereafter referred to as “mapping”) of at least 1500 Jewish cemeteries in European countries, each of which presents a unique challenge with regard to the current state of Jewish cemeteries. The project should first of all include the EU Member States Greece, Slovakia and Lithuania and the neighbourhood countries of Ukraine and Moldova, however, applicants are encouraged to include other European Union and/or European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries, on condition that a convincing rationale for the suggested sample of countries is provided. The mapping should include a geographical overview with a proposed list of criteria and the sampling method(s) to be followed in each case(s), depending on the characteristics of the overall condition of Jewish cemeteries in the countries selected.
Furthermore, the pilot project shall recognize successful examples (“good practices”) of Jewish burial sites’ restorations and preservations carried out in the identified cemeteries (see the expected results for more information).
The action should also identify specific opportunities for cross-fertilisation and stronger interactions between various stakeholders interested in the preservation of Jewish burial sites, the representatives of broadly understood cultural and creative sectors, religious and local communities. The action shall for example examine how Jewish burial sites can offer the opportunity for local or regional education institutions or youth projects to re-involve youths with their community and encourage them to engage with the past and develop a feeling of ownership for Europe’s diverse cultural heritage and traditions.
Beyond being cultural heritage, Jewish cemeteries are also religious sites. The action should take these particular circumstances into account and further explore possibilities to involve faith communities.
The action should contribute to the momentum built up by the European Year of Cultural Heritage through dissemination and awareness raising of the European value of heritage and cultural diversity of Europe. The period following the Year will be an opportunity to highlight the importance of education, training and innovation for the maintenance and support of cultural heritage. It will also tap on issues regarding transmitting the knowledge of cultural heritage to the younger generations, the acquisition of heritage-related skills (e.g. heritage restoration skills) by the new generation, as well as models of participatory governance for cultural heritage among public and private actors.
Finally, the activity could also pave the way towards future specific interventions using local, national and European Union resources (e.g. European Structural and Investment Funds) for heritage-related activities. Should specific cases of existing EU- funded restorations or related activities (e.g. educational) be identified, they shall be flagged in the mapping and given separate consideration.
It is expected that the selected organization/consortium will:
a) Produce a mapping which will include:
- an online list of identified Jewish burial sites in the specified countries (Greece, Slovakia and Lithuania and the neighbourhood countries of Ukraine and Moldova), with relevant accompanying factual and visual reference to be defined by the applicant (location, photographic documentation, relevant historical data, etc.); furthermore, each identified burial site shall be accompanied by relevant historical facts (e.g. information about the previously existing Jewish communities nearby) that could be important for identifying possible synergies (future educational activities, involvement of local communities, tourism,)
b) Compile analytical material which will include:
- list of identified “good practices” of Jewish burial sites’ restorations and/or preservation-related activities; it is understood that successful examples should consist of cases where not only the restorations works were carried out in an efficient manner, but the scope of the projects and their long-term planning involved a wide range of different stakeholders; applicants are kindly requested to propose a methodology for the identification of such good practices, while focusing on their potential transferability;
- proposed models for the involvement of various stakeholders (policy-makers, NGOs, local communities, cultural and creative sectors, etc.), with particular emphasis on young people and educational institutions;
- proposed models for funding of Jewish burial sites’ restorations and follow- up activities, with an emphasis on feasibility and transferability of suggested
c) Communicate the project results
- The applicants are asked to identify and prepare interactive communication tools where the collected material specified above can be publicised and presented (in paper and/or digital form, incl. websites and/or social media outlets) in order to be used by a range of identified stakeholders (local communities, NGOs, educational institutions, policy-makers, etc.). The applicants shall also propose an appropriate and attractive manner of presentation of their findings in this regards (e.g. analytical report, a “toolkit” to be proposed, etc.), focused on transferability.
- The applicants are asked to prepare informative and educational material (e.g. leaflets, brochures, websites, social media materials) on the value of Jewish burial sites for Europe, promoting understanding of European heritage and to be disseminated in the aftermath of the European Year of Cultural Heritage as well as aligned to the objectives of the European Year of Cultural Heritage