Last week, as a continuation of our legal research within our European Commission grant with Centropa and Foundation for Jewish Heritage, the ESJF met with our partner, Martin Kornfeld, CEO of the Federation of Jewish Communities (Židia na Slovensku) in Slovakia.
The discussion centred around the local challenges that Slovakian Jewish communities face regarding legal ownership and protection of their Jewish cemeteries. One of the main issues raised was the registration of Jewish cemeteries particularly in the cases where there are no existing Jewish communities. According to Mr. Kornfeld, even though they have lists of all the Jewish cemeteries in Slovakia, sometimes they are registered under different legal property names by the Slovakian officials, such as industrial or agricultural land.
In these cases, it is difficult to protect Jewish cemeteries, especially when they have not been in use for five or ten years. Jewish cemeteries that are no longer in use as a burial place can be registered as cultural heritage sites, however this comes with financial obligations through maintenance and preservation that communities are often unwilling or unable to bear.
This meeting highlighted the urgent need to regulate and standardize the different legal systems of EU countries in terms of Jewish cemetery preservation and ownership rights in order to save as many as possible from neglect and vanishing!