Poland was once home to the largest community in Europe. More than 1,000 Jewish cemeteries, most of which are overgrown or in ruins, remain. However, not all of them contain tombstones.
The Jewish cemetery in Bodzentyn was established in the latter half of the ninetieth century and is located on a hillside called Góra Miejska. In earlier times the cemetery was partly fenced.
The video shows part of the events that took place during the Dawid Rubinowicz Days II in 2009.
The Jewish cemetery of Bodzentyn was projected to restoration in 2008-2009. This event was preceded by local projects aiming to involve young people clearing bushes and weeds on the initiative of the Roman Catholic priest Father Leszek Sikorski and the chairman of the cultural association Odnowica Krystyna Nowakowska.
For Manes Szafir (Max Safir) of Sweden, born in Bodzentyn and survived the Holocaust, initiating the actions and being involved in the restoration was a dream come true. Several men and women related to the former Jewish Community of Bodzentyn and churches, associations, one school and one municipality and private donors in Sweden contributed to the funds raised, in co-operation with the Editor, to cover the costs.
Supporting Manes Szafir, the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism (SCAA), headed by the current CEO Lena Jersenius, transferred the funds to the Dawid Rubinoiwcz Society that was founded in 2009 and headed by Jan Pałysiewicz at the time of the restoration. The SCAA also gave the list of donors to the municipality at the end of the project.
Bogdan Białek, Editor-in-Chief of the publishing house Charaktery and president of the Jan Karski Association, got involved in the restoration.
Throughout the project, he consulted the works at the cemetery with Rabbi Michael Schudrich so that it would be in accordance with Jewish law (you may not, for example, uproot the roots of the ground at a cemetery so that the bones of the diseased will be disturbed as will their souls in heaven, however, is allowed to clear bushes, trees and weeds from the surface).
Also, Bogdan Białek organized the celebrations connected with the rededication of the cemetery and made arrangements with the renowned ceramist artist Marek Cecuła, so that he would design a beautiful gate, as a symbolic memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
"It is really not about buildings monuments everywhere. Our soil, our nation, many of our nation’s sons and daughters deserve to be immortalized in stone and metal. What matters is stopping the memories from dying, for this is the sole thing that we can still do", says Bogdan Białek.