As the possibility of peace arose once again in the former Yugoslavia, seven Jewish victims from war-torn Bosnia were memorialized with a ceremony and tombstone unveiling at the Jewish cemetery in the Croation coastal city of Split.
After escaping from Bosnia, the seven refugees died while they were living in emergency refugee housing run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Makarska, located near Split.
Ranko Jajcanin, a young man from the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo who is studying for the rabbinate in Israel, led last week’s ceremony, which was held under the auspices of the Hebrew Free Burial Association.
About 50 people attended the unveiling, including members of the Split Jewish community and Bosnian refugees now living in Makarska.
For family and friends, the ceremony provided a rare occasion to Kaddish and participate in a religious memorial service.
Among the attendees was Jacob Finci, president of La Benevolencija, the Sarajevo Jewish welfare organization that has gained international fame for its non-sectarian humanitarian and activities during the Bosnian conflict.
“Every time I meet with the refugees in Makaraska, I am overwhelmed by their need to express their grief for everything that has happened, for the world they managed to rebuild after World War II and is now lost irrevocably,” Yashiel Bar Chaim, a JDC official, said in a telephone interview from his office in Paris.
He said discussions were under way to hold a similar ceremony to commemorate five Bosnian Jewish refugees who are buried in the Jewish cemetery in the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade.