27 October 2008: Romanian Jewish Graves Vandalised

According to reports, more than 100 graves were damaged by vandals in Bucharest’s largest Jewish cemetery on Thursday 23 October. The Romanian Justice Ministry has promised a thorough investigation. More than 40,000 Jews are buried in Bucharest Jewish Cemetery, some victims of the Holocaust. Read More

3 November 2008: Lo Tishkach Database Reaches 8,000

Last week, Dubrovnik (Boninovo) New Jewish Cemetery in Croatia became the 8,000th record to be added to the Lo Tishkach Database of European Jewish Burial Grounds. The Lo Tishkach project estimates that there are up to 20,000 such sites on the European continent. Read More

CEMETERY FOCUS November 2008: Dubrovnik New Jewish Cemetery (Boninovo)

Dubrovnik New Jewish Cemetery can be found on the Put Od Republike, just north of the junction with Splitski Put. It is situated in an urban area a short distance north-west of Dubrovnik old town. The cemetery, which is still used by the local Jewish community, is surrounded by a high stone wall with a lockable gate. Read More

21 December 2008: Spanish Government Orders Stop to Jewish Cemetery Desecration in Toledo

21 December 2008

All archaeological works at the site of a medieval Jewish cemetery in Toledo have been suspended after the Spanish government ordered a halt at the site.

The decision taken Friday, December 19, followed high-level meetings at the Spanish foreign ministry in Madrid with representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, the Conference of Spanish Rabbis, the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE).

Toledo photo

Lo Tishkach Executive Director Philip Carmel had received a plea from the Jewish community in Spain and from the foreign ministry to broker an agreement acceptable to all opinions of Jewish law. The CER and CPJCE therefore immediately travelled to Spain at which the agreement was hammered out.

“We welcome this as a positive step from the Spanish government and in particular, the agreement of the cultural authorities in the Toledo region to halt work pending a solution which respects Jewish law and tradition,” said Carmel, who attended the meeting on behalf of the CER.

“The top halachic experts in Europe will discuss this now but in the right circumstances – not under the threat of continuing desecration at the site – but in the spirit of goodwill from all parties to find a solution,” he added.

At its meeting on December 18 in Madrid with Ambassador Ana Salomon of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Carmel was joined by Rabbi Avraham Ginsburg, Executive Director of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, and representatives of the Spanish Council of Rabbis and the Federation of Spanish Jewish Communities.

Talks are continuing with the authorities in Madrid and Toledo to find a comprehensive solution to this issue in the coming days.

Lo Tishkach, the Conference of European Rabbis and the CPJCE had also demanded that all further actions by the authorities in Toledo and by the Spanish government concerning the Jewish cemetery in Toledo and all Jewish cemeteries in Spain be co-ordinated with the full approval of the local Jewish community and its religious leaders.

CEMETERY WATCH November & December 2008

Ukrainian War Memorial Attacked

4 November 2008

According to reports, vandals damaged a memorial to victims of political repression during WWII at a Jewish cemetery in southwest Ukraine.  The vandals moved the monument and damaged its fencing. Investigations are underway but no arrests have been made so far.

Read the original JTA article.

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Jewish Cemetery Near Leeds, UK, Closed Because of Subsidence

5 November 2008

Gildersome’s Jewish cemetery has been declared dangerous by engineers and will be closed to visitors. Located on top of coalmines, the site is affected by subsidence. No further burials will take place in the cemetery, which is the final resting place of Rabbi Meir Palterovitch.

Read the original article in the Morley Observer.

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Kristallnacht Memorial Unveiled in Liberec Jewish Cemetery, Czech Republic

10 November 2008

A memorial commemorating Holocaust victims was unveiled in the newly-restored Liberec Jewish cemetery in the Czech Republic. Taking place 70 years after Kristallnacht, the inauguration was attended by international guests and Czech Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka, who stressed the importance of remembering the past. The memorial, which is located inside the cemetery’s former ceremony hall, was financed by local and regional authorities as well as by private donors. Before Word War II, Liberec was home to some 1,600 Jews.

Read the full article in the Prague Monitor.

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Two Jewish Cemeteries Desecrated in Germany

17 November 2008

Two Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in the former East German state of Thuringia. In Gotha, a pig’s head hanging on the cemetery’s gate was discovered by a passerby. The vandals also left a banner painted in red including the words ‘six million lies’. In Erfurt, red liquid was poured over a memorial plaque at the Jewish cemetery. German politicians condemned the desecrations.

Police searched the home of a 48 year-old suspect in Erfurt, who they said had a criminal record for similar hate offences.

According to recent reports, one Jewish cemetery per week – on average – has been vandalised in Germany this year.

More information on these desecrations can be found on the following websites:

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/11/17/europe/EU-Germany-Anti-Semitism.php

http://jta.org/news/article/2008/11/18/1001040/two-german-cemeteries-vandalized

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3803595,00.html

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Jewish Cemetery Exhibition Opens in Vienna, Austria

27 November 2008

An exhibition on Vienna Währinger and Hamburg Altona Jewish cemeteries was opened at the Währing district museum on 27 November. The inauguration of the exhibition, which will end on 25 January, was attended by prominent state and Jewish community representatives.

Both Hamburg Altona and Vienna Währinger cemeteries are similar in size, date from similar periods and are the final resting places of famous Jewish families. The German cemetery was recently restored and re-opened to the public, whereas its Austrian counterpart remains closed.

Visit the website of the Währing Bezirksmuseum for more information.

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Desecration of Muslim and Jewish Graves in French Military Cemetery

9 December 2008

Some 500 graves of Muslim soldiers were covered with swastikas in the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette cemetery in northern France. An additional 20 Jewish gravestones were also desecrated. French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the crime as ‘abject and revolting’, ordering a quick investigation.

More information is available from the World Jewish Congress website.

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Restoration of Gravestones at Offenbach Jewish Cemetery Completed

22 December 2008

26 gravestones have been restored at the Waldbach Jewish cemetery in the German city of Offenbach as part of a cultural heritage programme. Additionally, the municipal archives have documented all 280 graves located in the cemetery where burials took place between 1871 and the 1930s and which during World War II also became the final resting place of 72 forced labourers. On 21 December, the documentation was handed to Rabbi Benjamin David Soussan, regional rabbi of Baden, according to whom only very few members of the present-day Offenbach Jewish community have family ties with the deceased. The municipality provided 25,000 Euros for the restoration of the gravestones’ inscriptions, while the documentation was carried out on a voluntary basis.

Read the full article in German in the Badische Zeitung.

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Austrian Green Party Highlights Government’s Failure to Protect and Preserve Jewish Cemeteries

31 December 2008

The Austrian Green Party has issued a press release highlighting the failure of the country’s government to protect and preserve Austria’s Jewish cemeteries, a commitment it made eight years ago by signing the Washington Agreement with the United States. The federal and regional governments in Austria have yet to reach a solution on how to finance care for the country’s Jewish cemeteries. The Green Party has introduced a bill to the national parliament that would establish a Jewish cemetery protection scheme similar to the one for war graves, which has been functioning effectively since 1947.

Read the full press release in German on the website of the Austrian Green Party.

5 January 2009: EDUCATION: Pilot Event Held in Berdychiv, Ukraine

5 January 2009

Berdychiv_1

The weekend of 20/21 December saw 35 Jewish students from all over Ukraine participate in a pilot event in preparation for the launch of burial site surveys throughout Ukraine in late spring 2009. The event was held by the Jewish Student Center (Kiev) in co-operation with the local Jewish community and with the support of the Lo Tishkach Foundation and the Genesis Philanthropy Group.

Participants took part in lectures on the Jewish history and culture of Berdychiv, visited the town’s two Jewish cemeteries and the former Jewish ghetto and met with local community leaders.

Cemetery surveys carried out by participants during the visit found that both historic cemeteries have suffered from re-development, with garages built partly on the site of the old Jewish cemetery and an amusement park located on the site of the cemetery at Shevchenko park.

Located in the Zhytomyr Oblast almost 200 km southwest of Kiev, Berdychiv, a historic northern Ukrainian city, is of great importance in Jewish history. Jews first settled in Berdychiv in the early 18th century and by 1897 Jews made up 80% of the town’s population. It was home to many charismatic rabbis including Rabbi Levi Yitzhak.

Berdychiv_2

His tomb can be found in a newly-refurbished ohel at the old Jewish cemetery (above).

Prior to World War II around 30,000 Jews lived in Berdychiv, almost all of whom were massacred by German troops in 1941. The Jewish population of Berdychiv now stands at several hundred people.