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By Yael Shamir-Driver
A Progress Report and a Thought for Yom Kippur
Copyright Yael Shamir-Driver, September 2001
Following my initial writeup on
the cemetery of Berdichev, I am very pleased to follow up with a report
about the work that has taken place since June, including some photographic
evidence of the results.
Following the securing of initial funds, the Rabbi of Berdichev worked
to obtain a permit from the municipality to clear the cemetery area of
overgrowth and certain trees. Having received this permit, a local contractor
was asked to clear a small area in order to ascertain that his work was
of the required standard and that he would work carefully without causing
any damage to the gravestones. The contractor’s work proved to be satisfactory and on this basis he was awarded a contract to clear a larger plot.
After some eight weeks of work we have the first photos showing the
results of this work. Large amounts of undergrowth have been cleared
away and gravestones, which were barely visible at the time of our June
visit, are now clear and ready for ‘reading’. Of course,
many of the stones are not completely upright, but generally the picture
is one of great improvement and what one would hope to see when visiting
a cemetery such as the one in Berdichev.
Although the photographs reveal
a completely “new cemetery”, the area currently cleaned is
probably no more than one sixth of the total area of the cemetery. Moreover,
unless treated with an appropriate herbicide, the growth will probably
reappear. We are currently investigating the most appropriate form of
treatment and any professional ideas would be welcomed. The current clearing
work will continue for another month until winter starts to set in.
Spring we would like to complete the clearance of the undergrowth in
the rest of the cemetery, effect the chemical treatment and carry out
the most important aspect of the project, which is to read and record
the details of as many gravestones as possible. The latest set of photographs
[see a sample below] encourages us that many of the stones may still
Click on any photo to see an enlarged view.
Berdichev cemetery before the start of the clean up, with the
LIOB Mausoleum in the distance.
Same view after clearing
Berdichev Cemetery – 1st stage of the
All this means that we will need to secure more support and in particular we will be looking for volunteers to help the documentation process planned for next year.
So here is a call, to all you Berdichevers and descendants thereof – please consider if you can help. I can be contacted at Drivery@netcomuk.co.uk