JRI Poland #Poland Restoration of the Bialystok Cemetery #poland


Mark Halpern
 

We, the Bialystoker diaspora community, should be very proud of a number
of people who volunteered their time last week to renovate and restore
the Bagnowka Jewish Cemetery.

For many years, Lucy Lisowska has organized a "summer camp" to clean up
and restore and Dr. Heidi Szpek has worked with Lucy to document the
Matzevot. Last year, a couple >from Massachusetts, Amy Halpern Degen (no
relation) and Josh Degen visited Bialystok, the ancestral home of Amy's
family, during "summer camp." They left with a better idea. Josh is a
stone mason and the couple decided to go back this year with
knowledgeable helpers and some heavy equipment to lift, replace, clean,
and restore as many Matzevot as they could in one week. To do this they
started a GoFundMe project https://www.gofundme.com/tngd3cw4 to raise
$10,000 for travel expense and heavy equipment rental. However, they
actually spent $12,800 and need $1,600 to break even.

The bottom line is that Josh, Amy, Amy's brother Mitchell, Heidi, Lucy,
and gang lifted, replaced, cleaned, and documented 301 Matzevot in 5 or
6 days. Quite an accomplishment. Yasher koach to the team.

The local press covered the work. See
http://bialystok.wyborcza.pl/bialystok/1,35241,20560145,cmentarz-zydowski-wyglada-jak-cmentarz-zdjecia.html.
Translate the article in Google Chrome browser.

Background article on Amy and Josh and their project can be found at
http://www.nashobavalleyvoice.com/townsend_news/ci_30152677/restoration-jewish-cemetery-preserve-vanishing-heritage.

Many photos organized by day can be found on Facebook page of Heidi
Szpek at https://www.facebook.com/heidi.szpekidzikowski?fref=ts.

Any volunteers for next year's summer camp?

Mark Halpern

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