(JHE) – Desecrations of Jewish cemeteries make headlines, but all too often the many efforts by volunteers and others to clean and restore them get overlooked or ignored. For the fourth time this year we are publishing a round-up of some of these clean-up initiatives in several European countries.
Most of these events went forward despite the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are still planned. But some work has had to be cancelled or curtailed because of the sanitary measures imposed by national governments.
Kobersdorf, September 23 – 21 students from a local school, under the supervision and initiative of the Austrian Jewish Museum (OJM), cleaned-up a few gravestones from the local Jewish cemetery.
Vienna, November 1, cancelled – Because of the anti-COVID measures adopted by the government, the Association “Save The Jewish Cemetery of Währing” had to postpone the last clean-up of the year. The next clean-up is scheduled for March 14th, 2021.
Chachersk, September – The Jewish Community of Belarus organized the clean-up of the city’s Jewish cemetery, which contains around 100 tombstones, dating back to the 19th century. The cemetery was fenced last year by the ESJF.
Mogilev, throughout autumn – Volunteer work at the city’s Jewish cemetery continues throughout autumn and includes both the clean-up and restoration works. The Mogilev Jewish community is also fundraising for the restoration of the cemetery via a GoFundMe campaign.
BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA
Višegrad, October 9 – On the 128th anniversary of the birth of the novelist and Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric, students and professors from a local school cleaned and restored the local Jewish cemetery.
Bezi, August – The Bezi Leisure and Equestrian Sports Association, with the permission of the MAZSIHISZ, the umbrella organization of the Hungarian Jewish Neolog Communities, worked for seven days cleaning-up the village’s Jewish cemetery. The initiative was launched by a family living nearby the cemetery. Bezi is a village of 438 inhabitants in north-western Hungary.
Kiskunmajsa, October 10 – A group of 96 high school students cleaned-up several locations in the context of a nation-wide initiative called, “Serve one another with love”, organized by Christian-church groups. Among the place was the local Jewish cemetery.
Tállya, October 23-25 – The second clean-up in Tállya organized by Bence Illyés, a local activist and photographer. JHE contributor Michele Migliori took part in the first clean-up there, in September, and wrote about it in a “Have Your Say” article.
Szombathely, November 3 – Students from the local Zrínyi school cleaned up the city’s Jewish cemetery, under the supervision of schoolteachers.
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, November 11 and 25 – From 8.30 AM until sunset, the administration of the Beth Haim Portuguese cemetery welcomes volunteers to clean it up. The cemetery will offer a kosher lunch to all volunteers. To participate, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bolimów, summer and autumn – During the summer, more than 50 people worked cleaning-up the town’s Jewish cemetery, which was thought to have only 2 or 3 tombstones left. In that period, over 58 matzevot were found by the volunteers clearing the site.
Czarny Dunajec, October – Works at the village’s Jewish cemetery, launched by the Centrum Foundation (established by former Olympic athlete Dariusz Popiela), were finished last month with the completion of a Holocaust memorial. Volunteers had been working at the cemetery since last spring, when they built a fence, restored the tombstones, cleaned up the cemetery, and created the Holocaust monument.
Jędrzejów, September 17-18 – In the context of the Days of Remembrance, two groups of students cleaned the local Jewish cemetery. On September 17, it was cleaned by students and teachers from the Training and Upbringing Center. The day after, a team of students from the Mikołaj Rej High School cleaned the cemetery, together with the mayor Marcin Piszczek and Klaudia Kwiecińska, initiator of the Remembrance Days.
Korczyn, November 13 – The second stage of the clean-up at the village’s Jewish cemetery
took place thanks to the collaboration between local NGOs and the municipality.
Łódź, October 18 — Eight volunteers took part in the last clean-up of the year organized by the Guardians of Remembrance Association. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the number of people taking part was limited. Work resumes in the spring, with regular volunteer clean-up sessions.
Małogoszcz, October 28 – The clean-up session saw the participation of only its organizer, Mr. Tomasz and his wife, since nobody else volunteered. Mr. Tomasz and his wife worked all day, and they managed to clear the entrance. The cemetery inside is a “jungle”, and Mr. Tomasz is willing to organize a new session.
Nowe Miasto, November 11 – The clean-up took place in the context of the FODZ’s
(Foundation for the Preservation of the Jewish Heritage in Poland) cooperation with its
partners participating in the Coalition of Guardians of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland. The
action, which included volunteers from the 426th Scout Team “Wagabunda,” was preceded by the fencing of the cemetery with the funds of the ESJF and will
continue in the next weeks with the support of the ESJF.
Oświęcim, October 23 – A clean-up of the cemetery with the participation of half a dozen volunteers, took place in Oswiecim.
Słomniki, October 1 – Nine local activists cleaned-up the city’s Jewish cemetery. The idea was started by a local woman, who drew other citizens to help in the effort.
Strzegom, October 13 – In the context of the ecological action “Clean up the world”, students from the local Commercial Technical School cleaned up the area of the city’s Jewish cemetery.
Warsaw, Okopowa Jewish Cemetery, Nov. 15. Students from a Warsaw middle school did clean-up work in the cemetery. Due to COVID regulations, the cemetery is only open on Sundays. Another clean-up is planned for November 22.
Rohatyn, from May until October – From May to October, Vasyl Yuzyshyn, volunteer of the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage team, made regular visits to clear the vegetation at the two village’s cemeteries.