May 27, 2020

The Long Game: Maintenance and Mobilization

With over 160 Jewish cemeteries in eight countries fenced and protected by the ESJF since 2016, we have still only touched the surface of the total number of sites which need protecting. Thousands are still at risk and in urgent need of salvation and preservation. Our extensive survey and research work, which has now reached some 2,000 sites and put us in contact with numerous local authorities, as well as our education programmes, keeps the focus on sites we cannot yet fence and offers an initial “on the radar” level of protection. However, our focus remains on the actual fencing process, and we still strive to demarcate and protect as many sites as we can in the shortest possible timeframe, while always adhering to the strictest engineering and halachic criteria.

Many of the towns we visit in Central and Eastern Europe no longer have Jewish communities to watch over their cemeteries, and it would be remiss of us to simply fence sites and leave them to the elements. The fences require maintenance and the cemeteries themselves need periodic care to ensure they do not become overgrown or subject to vandalism and desecration. In fact, the simple action of showing a presence at the site and letting it be known that there are local actors committed to the preservation of the cemeteries is critical to their long-term protection.

Horažďovice, Czech Republic
Oráčov, Czech Republic

At the ESJF, we work very much at the macro level and believe it is right wherever possible to fence the maximum number of sites and to devote the largest part of our resources to constructing fences at new sites. While this work is the main focus of our resources, it is vital that as we continue to fence more sites that we devote more time and resources to watching over them.

Protecting an already-fenced Jewish cemetery, controlling excess vegetation, and keeping our maintenance operatives regularly updated about the need for repair work is not an expensive task for one site. But it is for 163. Soon that number will be over 200 and will hopefully continue to rise in the future.

As such, we ask for your help in this task. For just a few hundred dollars or euros a year, you can protect a Jewish cemetery. Your family or community can even adopt one and not only support the maintenance of the site but establish real contact with locals or visit to help ensure the site’s sustainability.

If you would like to help us in this mission – to maintain and protect sites – and help free up more ESJF resources to fence and protect even more sites, please contact our office at the email address below and let us know if there are any specific settlements, regions, or countries that interest you or your community and we will advise you how best you can help.

Thank You

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