Riot in Berditcheff when Ancient Cemetery Transformed into Park

The conversion of the two-hundred-year-old Jewish cemetery of Berditcheff into a public park has resulted in a war between religious Jews and policemen and laborers employed in excavating the cemetery and transforming it into a park.

The laborers were attacked and stoned by Jews who demanded that the excavation work be discontinued. The rabbinate of the city called a demonstration to take place at the reburial of skeletons unearthed during the excavations. The rabbinate stated that they were the remains of ancient holy men, while the Communists declare that human remains were not unearthed, only the skeletons of horses having been dug up.

In the meantime, a rumor spread among the workers that some of them had become paralyzed. A number of the workers have refused to go on, declaring that they fear God’s vengeance.

The city officials admit that the place is the site of an ancient cemetery. However, they declare, the gravestones were destroyed long ago and the place is now a source of infectious diseases. It is therefore better to convert it into a park. Gravestones which have remained will be restored and left on the site.

A day of fast was proclaimed in Kilntzi when the local Soviet there officially prohibited further burials in the ancient Jewish cemetery in that town. Funds are now being collected for fencing in a new cemetery.

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