Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jewish Cemetery in Slawatycze, Poland is Restored

Monika Krawczyk, the head of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, reports that the Jewish cemetery in the town of Slawatycze has been restored and will be rededicated at a ceremony May 19 that will be attended by descendants of Jews from the town now living in North America and Israel.

The project was joint-venture of the Slawatycze Landsmanschaft from the USA and Canada, the Warsaw Jewish Community and the Foundation. Work was carried out under the supervision of the Rabbinic Commission.

Slawatycze is a tow located on the eastern border of Poland. Jews settled there in the 17th century. In 1921 the town's population was 1864 persons - among them 902 Jews. In 1939 a group of Jewish activists were shot and killed by the Germans, then buried in the cemetery in a mass grave. The remaining Slawatycze Jews were transferred to a ghetto
in Miedzyrzecz in May 1942, and from there to Treblinka. Very few survived.

For 60 years after the end of the war, the cemetery was neglected and became almost invisible among the surrounding local fields and medows.

Monika reports that:

"In 2004 the initiative to restore and commemorate the cemetery was brought to the attention of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland by Alan Metnik and Henry Gittleman who contacted other descendants of Jews and started the fundraising for the project. The Foundation was responsible for all logistics, construction and legal issues. In 2007 restoration was completed, the cemetery is now fenced, with memorial gate and plaque, grass is cut and looks presentable - although we are very sad for the tragedy of the Holocaust we are proud for the fact that the memory is preserved. At a rededication ceremony on 19th May 2008 we will proclaim the triumph of unbroken Jewish spirit among 50 landsmen coming from Canada, USA and Israel."

POLIN Portal to Jewish Heritage in Poland

The POLIN web portal to Jewish Heritage in Poland is growing by leaps and bounds. There are dozens of new photographs and video clips of Jewish heritage sites around Poland -- to date, about 270 sites are shown; the aim is to present online documentation of 1,200 places.

POLIN is a project of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Prince Charles and My New Book

Prince Charles of England was in Krakow at the end of April to open a new Jewish Community Center.... at the ceremony, he was presented a copy of my new book, Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere), by Malgosia Ornat, who, with her husband Wojtek, runs Austeria press, which published the book earlier this year.