Zelechow New Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Masovian Voivodeship
Site address
Adjacent to Chłopickiego Street.
GPS coordinates
51.80535, 21.88957
Perimeter length
592 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
There is an iron mesh fence on posts, 2m high with a block gate. The fence was installed by FODZ in 2014.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The new Jewish cemetery of Żelechów is situated in a wooded area in the south-western part of the town. The area is delineated by 4 streets and is covered with tall wild grass and rare bushes and trees. Several dozen tombstones have been preserved and a modern ohel was built. There is some damage to the fence.
Number of existing gravestones
70 intact and some fragments of the tombstones have been preserved. On the slope facing Reymonta Street there are sandstone matzevot that have survived in good condition and with legible inscriptions.
Date of oldest tombstone
1895, 1896, 1847
Date of newest tombstone
1931, 1936
Urgency of erecting a fence
Land ownership
Preserved construction on site
There are two ohallim: one is a block building over the likely burial places of local tzaddikim Aron Jechiel from the Kozienice dynasty (died in 1941) and Rabbi Aron ha-Kohen (over which a previous ohel used to be). The second one is a wooden roof on posts, in which two old stones from the local cemetery are standing: one of Sheindel Freida Rabinowicz, wife of tzaddik Yaakov Yitzhak from Przysucha, the second is unknown.
Drone surveys

Historical overview

The new Jewish cemetery in Żelechów is located approximately 470 metres southwest of the town square, on a rise between Reymonta, Brzóski, Bema, and Chłopickiego Streets. It occupies a plot with an acreage of 2.1315 hectares (ha). The cemetery was founded around 1802. In the following decades it was expanded. There was a funeral house beside the entrance gate. During World War II, people who died or were killed in the ghetto were buried in the cemetery. The Germans also used the site carried for carrying out executions. In 1942 it was the site of a so-called black wedding which, according to Jewish folklore, was meant to stop the spread of typhoid fever in the ghetto. The cemetery was devasted during the war. Presumably, some of the last people to be buried at the cemetery were Salomon Epner and Perla Fajgezucht, killed in Żelechów in the spring of 1945. Bodies of people killed during the war and initially buried elsewhere were exhumed and reburied in the cemetery.

In the following decades the cemetery fell into further disrepair. In 1960-1964 a plot of 1.23 ha was fenced. In 1964 the Minister for Local Economy signed a by-law commencing the closure of the cemetery so the area could be used for other purposes. In 1980 the local government planned to use part of the cemetery for residential buildings. There was a gas pumping station in the northern corner of the cemetery. In 2014, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage along with Rabbi Chaim Hopstein and Moses Hirschler, erected a new fence and installed an information plaque. There are approximately 150 tombstones in the cemetery including the 2015 matzevot of the tzadiks Aharon ha-Kohen and Arie Hofstein. There are plans to build an ohel. There is no information about the cemetery’s ownership status. The cemetery is listed in the voivodeship register of immovable monuments.

The first records of Jews in Żelechów date back to the 16th century. In around 1765, the local Rabbi was Lewi Ischak, later the Rabbi of Berdyczów. In 1840 the rabbi of the community was tzadik Jehoszua Aszer Rabinowicz. In the mid-19th century Icchak Szlomo Goldberg established a Hasidic dynasty in the town. In 1921 there were 4,016 Jewish residents in Żelechów, most of whom were killed by Germans in Treblinka in 1942. In 1944, 132 surviving Jews returned to Żelechów though they later left the city. Two of those survivors who returned to the city were killed in 1945.