Dutch city returns two cemeteries to Jewish community

(JTA) — The city of Vlissingen in the Netherlands has returned two Jewish cemeteries to the region’s Jewish community.

Vlissingen took possession of the cemeteries after the Jewish community was destroyed in the Holocaust. 

The land was signed over last week to the Jewish community of Zeeland — the district to which Vlissingen belongs — at an official ceremony in Vlissingen, a city of approximately 50,000 residents.

Most Jewish cemeteries in the Netherlands belong to Jewish communities, but Vlissingen was an exception, said Ruben Vis, secretary of the NIK, the umbrella organization of Dutch Jewish bodies.

He added the cemeteries would becoem active burial places as the Jewish cemetery in nearby Middelburg was full.

According to Dutch law, remains buried in state-owned cemeteries may be removed in connection with certain land rights and taxes. To prevent this occurrence — which is incongruent with Jewish religious law — Dutch Jewish communities have traditionally insisted on owning cemeteries. 

“The dead once again belong to the living,” said Micha de Vries, chairman of the Jewish community of Zeeland. He added that the fact that Jewish cemeteries are necessary is a clear sign that Jewish life is returning to the region’s towns and cities.

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