Bandza Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery in Bandza is located opposite to one of the synagogues, it is fenced and well maintained. While there is no data available regarding its history, it can be dated to either the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century. The earliest legible date on a tombstone is 1898. The cemetery was in use until 1994 after which it was virtually inactive as almost the entire Jewish community of Bandza left for Israel in early 1990.
The Jewish population lived in Bandza in the region of Samegrelo from the second half of the 18th century. Georgian historians believe the Jewish population came to Bandza from Lailashi in the north-west of Georgia. By the 19th century the village became an important trading centre in Western Georgia and the size of the Jewish population grew to 250 families. In the mid-19th century, Bandza’s Jewish community had the exclusive right to trade in the village. In the beginning of the 20th century two brick synagogues were built in the village: the Sepiashvili synagogue built in 1910 and the Ajiashvili synagogue built in 1915. In the first quarter of the 20th century, interest in Zionist ideas spread among Bandza’s Jews and a Zionist organisation was created. Its representatives took part in Georgia’s Zionist conference in 1919. According to local newspapers, 80 Jewish families lived in town in 1919. In 1939 about 650 Jews lived in Bandza, and in the 1920’s and 1930’s there was a Jewish collective farm. In 1979 there were only 20 Jews, and in the 1990’s there were only 2 families.