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Jewish Cemeteries in Eastern Europe in Critical, Precarious Situation


The situation of Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe is “critical and precarious,” reports the World-Center of European Rabbis, Section Geder Avot. The World-Center has been advised, however, by Rabbi Isaac Hechtman, director of the Jewish Committee Council of Montreal that “we know that we must neither give up nor can we ever say that we are unable to act effectively” in saving the cemeteries.

“Geder Avot, trying to obtain reparations for the German destruction of Jewish cemeteries, has made several unsuccessful representations to the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn,” said Rabbi Moses Joseph Rubin of Brooklyn, N.Y., president of the World-Center, which recently convened in Montreal on the problem. “Since most of these cemeteries have been completely destroyed and cannot be reconstructed,” he continued, “Geder Avot plans to build memorial houses in Israel for the martyrs, for those who no longer have gravestones, and for the cemeteries which were demolished.”

Rabbi Rubin, who is Chief Justice of the Rabbinical Court of Boro Park, indicated that “The current situation hardly promises to be much of an improvement from the past.” The Polish government, he said, has confiscated Jewish cemeteries at Stanislow, Regzazov and Belz, and has built a park on the one at Lvov. “Many Jewish graveyards endangered are over 1000 years old,” he warned, “and with their destruction the last historical traces of the Jews of Poland will be effaced. Similarly, Babi Yar in Kiev, Russia, a mass grave of Jews and Ukrainians murdered by the Germans, will be converted into an amusement park if no action is taken.”

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