ONLINE NEWSLETTER
(No. 5/2007 November 2007)
Editor: Fran Bock

Celia Denov and Robert Bell traveled to Sharashova (Shereshev) Belarus in September 2007 to help restore the abandoned Jewish Cemetery. As a follow-up to the Dave Feldman-Martin Zafman article about this town (http://www.jewishgen.org/belarus/newsletter/ShereshevTrip.htm), Celia and Robert have shared their information and photos with us.

 

This article is copyrighted by Celia Denov and Robert Bell.

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Restoring the Shereshev Cemetery

by Celia Denov and Robert Bell

 

In September 2007 we undertook a project in Sharashova to restore the abandoned Jewish cemetery. Our work included erecting a perimeter metal fence of about 1500 meters in length, and a gate to the cemetery in the original location. We cleared the debris and underbrush which had accumulated over the decades. A number of the headstones were righted.

 

The project met with complete cooperation of the authorities of the village of Sharashova and the region of Pruzany, and local fabricators and laborers were engaged in the work.

 

We met with and addressed senior students in the Sharashova high school, who wrote essays on the past Jewish life in the region and the Holocaust, which they had studied in school. Many of these students volunteered to help with the work we were doing in the cemetery. About 400 man-hours of work were provided within the community, not including the fence fabrication, the student volunteers, or the four of us who undertook this project.

The total funding of this project was privately paid for by the Siegerman family, whose parents left Sharashova in 1905. Members of the Siegerman family had visited Sharashova since the 1990’s and were concerned about the cemetery.

 

A black granite monument was erected (see photo below) and the inscription reads:

 

“This cemetery is rededicated to the Jewish community of Sharashova, in loving memory of the once vibrant Jewish community, with fervent hopes for a peaceful and just world for all.

 

“In memory of those who were deported to Auschwitz January 30 – February 2, 1943.

 

“Dedicated September 2007 by descendents of the Jewish community.”

 

 

The project was coordinated by Dr. Michael Lozman of Restoration of Eastern European Jewish Cemeteries Inc of Albany, New York, and Dr. Franklin Swartz, of Voluntas, Minsk, Belarus, and would not have been possible without their involvement.

 

It was evident to us that the town’s administration, the Pruszhany District Administration, and, especially, the residents of Sharashova valued the part Jews have played in their area’s history. We saw no evidence of abuse to the cemetery or vandalism of headstones. There are in fact probably over 1,000 stones extant. Many of the stones had fallen due to subsidence and we reset some of them. We hope that in the future, with support from people who trace their roots back to Sharashova, the rest can be reset.

 

 

Age-worn headstones

 

 

 

We righted a number of headstones

 

 

The maintenance of the cemetery is an ongoing concern. Financial assistance will be needed to provide a fund for the ongoing upkeep of the cemetery.

 

Below is a picture of the monument installed at Sharashova, taken just after it was set. Subsequently the surrounding area was covered with gravel:

 

 

 

 

Part of the fence being set in place.

 

 

The gate we built

 

 

The completed fence

 

Below are some of the students who helped with the cemetery clean up and attended the rededication ceremony:

 



 

Some of the townspeople who attended

 

 

 

 

Construction of the fence required a tractor from the local community to weld the fence together

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we used a horse to transport parts of the fence (there were 177 sections)

 

And sometimes we used the horse for transport

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids at the local high school were keenly interested as Celia told them about the project

 

 

 

Above is the winning student essay

 

Finally, our meeting with the Mayor and Regional Chairman

 

Copyright 2007 Belarus SIG and Celia Denov and Robert Bell

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