| Presentation du projet
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ABOUT THE LO TISHKACH FOUNDATION
Jewish tradition regards burial grounds as sacred sites which must never be disturbed. Jewish cemeteries and mass graves also provide a vivid focal point marking the destruction of Jewish communities and for learning the lessons of the Holocaust. They stand as testimony to the history of Jewish community life across the European continent and are an important part of Europe’s diverse cultural heritage.
Opportunities are increasing for the preservation and protection of Jewish cemeteries and mass graves throughout Europe. At the same time, however, thousands of these sites lie unvisited and unprotected, facing new threats to their already parlous existence. Neglect, inappropriate commercial and industrial development, vandalism, theft and well-meaning but inexpert attempts at restoration are threatening to permanently erase what is often the only surviving reminder of the importance of Europe’s pre-war Jewish communities. Without immediate action many may soon be lost forever.
The Lo Tishkach European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative was established in 2006 as a joint project of the Conference of European Rabbis and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Lo Tishkach received its official royal decree formally establishing the organisation as a Foundation of Public Utility under Belgian law (no. 899.211.180) in June 2008. It aims to guarantee the effective and lasting preservation and protection of Jewish cemeteries and mass graves throughout the European continent.
This initiative, identified by the Hebrew phrase Lo Tishkach (‘do not forget’), is establishing a comprehensive publicly-accessible database of all Jewish burial grounds in Europe, currently featuring details on over 9,000 cemeteries and mass graves. The Lo Tishkach project is also producing a compendium of the different national and international laws and practices affecting these sites, to be used as a starting point to advocate for the better protection and preservation of Europe’s Jewish heritage.
A key aim of the project is to engage young Europeans, bringing Europe’s history alive, encouraging reflection on the values that are important for responsible citizenship and mutual respect, giving a valuable insight into Jewish culture and mobilising young people to care for our common heritage. The project uses Jewish cemeteries – a physical legacy of formerly vibrant Jewish communities – as the focus of a practical activity and learning programme to meaningfully transmit to younger generations the lessons of the Holocaust.
Groups of young people trained by Lo Tishkach have already begun to visit thousands of Jewish burial sites across Europe. These groups gather vital information on local Jewish life, history and culture, photograph and survey each cemetery, and undertake practical work to help preserve and protect these important sites.