Sunday, July 12, 2009

Turkey: Sephardic cemeteries running out of space

There is an ongoing dispute between the Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities in Turkey because the Sephardic cemeteries are running out of space.

Ashkenazim - in Turkey since the 1400s - make up only 5% of the Jewish community, but the two communities are extensively intermarried. The Sephardic community grew after Spanish Jews were welcomed at the time of the 1492 Expulsion.

The office of the Chief Rabbi (Hakham Bashi) placed an advertisement in the daily Jewish paper stating that Sephardim were reserving plots in Ashkenazi cemeteries and vice versa.

The rabbi warned that this is a big problem and those considering such plots should consult him first, while the Ashkenazi organization says, in response, that their door is open to everyone.

The main problem is that Sephardim and Ashkenazim married to each other want to be buried side by side, but the Sephardi cemeteries are running out of room.

There are six Sephardic and one Ashkenazi cemetery, with the Ulus Cemetery most popular.

Read the complete Hurriyet article here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Poland: Prisoners to renovate Jewish cemeteries

AFP reported that prisoners are to do conservation work in disused Jewish cemeteries, Poland’s prison service said Thursday.

Prison spokesperson Ireneusz Mucha said an agreement had been signed with the national Polish-Jewish heritage foundation enabling the prisoners to volunteer.

Some 1,000 Polish cemeteries need work; many were destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

“The voluntary, unpaid work will be run with local authorities or Jewish communities. The advantages will go both ways, because the foundation will also provide courses in history and tolerance for the prisoners,” Mucha said.

More than 12 prisons will participate.

Initial projects will be building a memorial in a Radom cemetery, south of Warsaw, and renovation of a Zwierzyniec graveyard in Poland's southeast.

The story added that Jews arrived in Poland from western Europe to escape 11th century pogroms.

Before the Holocaust, some 3.5 million Jews lived in Poland, about 10% of the population and Europe's largest Jewish community.

Of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis, half were Polish. Most perished in concentration camps.

Today, some 5,000-15,000 people in Poland identify as Jewish.

Read more here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Michigan: Jewish cemetery nominated for NRHP

Temple Beth Israel Cemetery (Jackson, Michigan) has been nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places
When Denni and Carl Glick of Jackson walk through Temple Beth Israel Cemetery, it's like taking a step back in time.

The two wander through the 1-acre burial plot on N. West Avenue, just south of the railroad tracks, and reminisce on the congregation's history, as told through inscriptions etched on the gravestones of family and friends.
Jews arrived in Jackson in 1842, but the small community meant a synagogue could not be constructed until the early 1860s. The cemetery was dedicated in 1859. There are more than 270 burials which represent four or five generations of community families.

Temple member Nancy Demeter spearheaded the process and researched its history. It was first approved by the State Historic Preservation Board, which forwarded the nomination to the National Park Service. Approval is expected.

Read more here.