SAVING JEWISH LIVES AND TRADITIONS

The East European Jewish Heritage Project

Svir Cemetery Restoration Project

The Jews of Svir were murdered during the Second World War by Germans and their Lithuanian accomplices but the current inhabitants, in common with many Belarusian, were intent on preserving the artefacts of their nation’s Jewish heritage.  On their own they undertook the conservation of the cemetery but their resources alone were not sufficient to provide the fence and gate needed to protect the cemetery.  The citizens of Svir approached the East European Jewish Heritage Project for assistance.  We, in turn contacted our associate Dr Michael Lozman of the Restoration of Eastern European Jewish Cemeteries Project, Inc* (a 501(c) (3) registered charity) in Albany, NY for assistance.  Michael has restored four Jewish cemeteries in Belarus (Soptoskin, Indura, Kamenka and now Svir) and is currently planning the restoration of three more.  Michael visited Svir in February 2004 to view the cemetery and assess the task of restoration.  After his visit we followed up with meetings with local town authorities and with National Committee for Religions and Nationalities.  All parties were eager to help and the local school in Svir offered the assistance of its students.  Back in the States Michael enlisted the aid of Gary Coleman, Director Binghampton University’s chapter of Hillel (www.hillelatbinghamton.org).  Together they found donors to support the project.  In June 2004 the students arrived and in four days with the help of citizens of Svir the cemetery was turned from a desolate lakeside field into a restored Jewish Cemetery. 

 Click here to read Binghampton student Carly Lipkowitz’s inspiring account of her and her fellow Hillel members’ experience.

 This is another example of how the East European Jewish Heritage Project can help facilitate your plans to assist the Jews of Belarus and Belarusians preserve their Jewish heritage.  Most importantly is what Carly describes,  ‘I felt a great deal of warmth to know that this cemetery had been completed through the efforts of Non-Jewish Belarusians and Jewish Americans working together’.

 

Svir Cemetery July 2003

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Svir Cemetery June 2004

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©All June 2004 pictures by Ben Chervin/Hillel at Binghamton  More pictures soon

*For more information about the Restoration of Eastern European Jewish Cemeteries Project, Inc please contact the EEJHP

 

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