Last month, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated or sustained significant
damage throughout the world. Here in the USA, we were dismayed by the
hateful vandalism of cemeteries in Philadelphia, PA, Rochester, NY,
and St. Louis, MO. In addition, 5 tombstones were found toppled in a
Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, and in Paris, France, an unintentional
traffic accident resulted in the destruction of 13 Jewish graves.
ALL OF THIS HAPPENED IN JUST THE MONTH OF MARCH.
JewishGen.org has been fighting this battle for many years, and has a
solution to preserve cemetery records throughout the world,
particularly in places where the Jewish community is dwindling or no
longer exists. JewishGen created a global burial registry which now
contains more than 3 million Jewish burials >from cemeteries in 125
countries throughout the world.
But this is not enough, and we turn to you for assistance. Right now,
as Passover quickly approaches, there are two important ways you can
help ensure that the memory of those who preceded us will never be
forgotten or erased:
If you have a personal connection with the leadership or a member of
any Jewish organization or synagogue, we ask that you consider
immediately approaching them with the request that they view a brief
PowerPoint video created by Nolan Altman, our VP of Data Acquisition.
In this video, he describes how our community, and its friends, can
most effectively respond to the challenge of preserving the precious
information on cemetery headstones now threatened with permanent
destruction. Passover is a very appropriate time to discuss these
issues, and we hope you can help. Here is a link to the video:
Join our efforts to photograph, transcribe and index cemetery
information. In many cases, a cemetery headstone may be the only
surviving record of our ancestors. Click here:
Our goal is to receive cemetery and burial information which we can
then upload to our website, serving as a permanent memorial and
research tool for future generations wishing to discover and honor
their own Jewish family history. As with all JewishGen databases,
these records will be freely available, and will serve as a memorial
that can never be extinguished.
To demonstrate the importance of JewishGen preserving Jewish burial
information, consider the following:
In the case of the Menorah Park cemetery in Philadelphia, JewishGen
already had the tombstone information in our databases. What if the
stones had been defaced beyond recognition and repair? Due to
JewishGen's efforts, the information will always be available, since
JewishGen serves as a permanent memorial and testament to those who
came before us – despite the physical conditions on the ground.
Jewish cemeteries serve as a bridge between generations. Without
JOWBR's information, many families would lose the connection to their
ancestors within 2-3 generations. How many people know where their
great-great grandparents are buried? But JewishGen fosters a connection
across time and space. Once we have recorded burial information, it is
our goal that it will be available for all future generations.
The Hebrew patronymic names on headstones are incredibly valuable to
genealogists because patronymic names link generations by showing the
name of the deceased and their father.
The symbols and epithets on a tombstone often give guidance as to the
status of the individual during his/her lifetime.
For these reasons, as the holiday of Passover quickly approaches, we
urge you to help us preserve the memory of those who have no one else
to speak for them.
As Hillel said: If not now, when?
And we add: If not us, then who?
If you are able to introduce JewishGen to an organization or synagogue,
please click the following link to submit a brief form to let us know
which organization/synagogue you have approached and the relevant
contact information of those with whom we might follow-up.
If you are interested in volunteering yourself, please click here:
Thank you in advance. With your help, we will continue to preserve
our history for future generations.
Happy Passover and Chag Kosher V’Sameach.