Friday, June 6, 2008

Group Restores Jewish Cemetery in Belarus

Fifteen students and four Siena professors unearthed 300 toppled gravestones at the Rubiazhevichi cemetery, located in a small Belarusian village about 45 minutes southwest of Minsk. They also rebuilt the entrance to the cemetery with the help of local residents.
The group, none of whom are Jewish, paid their own way to do this service work. A Siena group restored a cemetery in Vselyub, Belarus in 2006.
During the World War II, the Nazis used Jewish gravestones to pace their way to the Eastern front. Most Jewish families, deported to concentration camps, lost their lives. The burial grounds of their ancestors are now in danger of disappearing from the historical record.
Photo from JTA.


bonnie said...

Have the family names from the graves been recorded?

Siena Communications said...

I am working on finding an answer to your question!

Ralph Blasting said...

Dear Bonnie,

Given the short time we have at the cemetery, we focus on preserving the stones but don't record names or do geneological research. All of the stones are engraved in Hebrew, and we didn't have anyone who reads Hebrew with us. Ideally, we would do rubbings and/or take photos of each stone, but we just didn't have the resources to do that.

Ralph Blasting, Dean of Liberal Arts and organizer of the trip.