Lesko Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Subcarpathian Voivodeship
Site address
The cemetery is located between Moniuszki, Żeromskiego and Łazienna streets. The entrance is located at 14, Lazienna Street.
GPS coordinates
49.47035, 22.33388
Perimeter length
709 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
There is a concrete fence with a gate, with no lock. In the northern part of the cemetery the fence is damaged in a few places.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is in good condition. Some parts of the fence are in a poor condition. Some gravestones have traces of graffiti.
Number of existing gravestones
Date of oldest tombstone
The earliest found was from 1875, however it is known that the cemetery was founded in 1548 so some of the illegible tombstones may date to then.
Date of newest tombstone
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Preserved construction on site
There are the remains of an Ohel (only a roof, not an actual building). It is dedicated to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Rubin.
Drone surveys

Historical overview

Lesko was founded as a private town. The town rights were granted around 1470. The earliest information about Jews settling in Lesko dates to 1542. In 1580, 20 Jewish families were living in the town. The largest percentage of the Jewish population was noted in the interwar period, when 2,336 Jews comprised 61% of the total population in 1921. On the eastern side of the market square, several institutions of the Jewish community were established: a synagogue, a beit midrash, a mikveh and a cemetery. Hasidism was gaining popularity in Lesko from the end of the 18th century. From the first half of the 19th century until the Holocaust, members of the Horowic family were rabbis and tzadiks in Lesko and its surrounding area, the most famous of them was Naftali Cwi Horowic (1760–1827), born in Lesko, who settled in Ropczyce. The Lesko Jews were employed in traditional professions; they worked in trade, crafting, and were tenants.

The cemetery was in use from the 1540s until the Holocaust. Its area had been successively enlarged from the 17th century. The large area attached to the cemetery from the eastern side after 1854 was called the new cemetery. After that time, the cemetery was fenced with a new stone wall, which was pulled down during World War II. On the northern side, near the entrance to the cemetery, there was a funeral home. During the Soviet occupation (1939–1941), the occupiers took tombstones made of valuable rocks away. Later, the German occupiers used some tombstones for building purposes. At the cemetery, executions and burials in unmarked mass graves took place. Near the entrance, there is a monument from 1995 dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.

The cemetery is located on a hill, approximately 200m east of the Market Square. The area of 3.08 hectares was laid in the shape of an irregular polygon and has been entirely preserved. It is covered with old trees and numerous self-seeded plants. On the southern and eastern sides, it is ringed with concrete buildings. The entrance to the cemetery is from the north, from Słowackiego Street. It is surrounded mainly by residential buildings. Over 2000 matzevot have survived, including about 100 from the 16th and 17th centuries, with the oldest dating to 1548. There are no tombstones in the majority of the cemetery. The preserved tombstones are traditional stelae made of local sandstone. Some tombstones from the 20th century are made of concrete. Tombstones from the second half of the 18th century and the 19th century are richly decorated with plant and animal motifs with folk art characteristics. The cemetery was entered into the Register of Monuments in 1969.