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[Page 54]

The Jewish Cemetery

by Dobka Buchstein (Krotman)

Translated by Dr. Leon Chameides

The community leaders demonstrated the same degree of concern for the dead as for those still alive. The cemetery was one of the institutions that received the most devoted attention. Mr. Salo Krebs was appointed to be in charge of the cemetery and he was assisted by his son, Heine. The two community Rabbis took turns on a monthly or weekly basis. They attended every funeral and eulogized every deceased with the same preparation and care given to their Friday evening sermons in the Great Synagogue. They performed this without regard to the social standing of the deceased - even a beggar was eulogized. I recall how Heine Krebs would go in a taxi to bring Rabbi Vogelmann to a funeral. The Krebs family was very strict about the funeral clothes of the Rabbi. The Rabbi would wrap himself in a black cape, similar to that worn by judges in court, and wore a top hat during the funeral.

kat054.jpg The Jewish cemetery in Katowice,  Kozielska Street  [35 KB]
The Jewish cemetery in Katowice, Kozielska Street

kat055a.jpg A funeral in the old cemetery  [25 KB]
A funeral in the old cemetery

The cemetery had a magnificent funeral hall decorated with vases in which the body would rest prior to the funeral. During the day, the deceased's family would sit there and during the night hired watchmen would take over. Two elderly unmarried sisters used to perform this task.

The cemetery also contained a large hall which looked like a theater with a stage on which a semicircle of chairs was set up for the mourners . The Rabbi would deliver the eulogy from this stage. The coffin of the deceased used to rest next to the stage. The funeral took place afterward.

The most important personalities in the community used to be members of the Chevra Kadisha and would personally come for the ritual cleansing of the body. I remember one of them, Mr. Wassertheil, the owner of a large textile business on the 3rd of May street, very well.

kat055b.jpg At the front of the old cemetery  [45 KB]
At the front of the old cemetery
Standing from the right: Josef Zelcer, Doba Buchsztajn, Krotman, Hajna Krebs

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