ESJF is proud to announce that field surveys have wrapped up in the first of the project countries under our 2019 mass survey project “Protecting the Jewish cemeteries of Europe: a full mapping process with research and monitoring and individual costed proposals for protection”, co-funded by the European Union. Our team travelled in Greece between 26 March and 14 April, mapping 48 sites altogether. Greece has been a hugely different experience from the places ESJF has worked in before, both in terms of the specific challenges posed by its unique topography, and because of its mostly Sephardic burial tradition. The survey teams flew, took ferries and travelled via land to visit well-known sites such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes or Zakynthos, but also smaller places like Paramythia, Rethymnon and Preveza.
Teams encountered contrasts between larger cities such as Athens or Thessaloniki, where Jewish communities have well-maintained, preserved and active cemeteries, and smaller towns where many burial sites are abandoned, overgrown or demolished. Around half of the cemeteries visited by ESJF are protected and fenced. The other sites are demolished, and many of them are built over or repurposed. Only rarely do any traces of the former cemetery remain.
The teams collected impressive aerial footage which will soon be showcased on our YouTube channel. The next steps for ESJF in Greece will be to develop fencing plans for threatened cemetery sites, and to begin educational projects for secondary school children.