Report >from Poland:
This morning, the JewishGen Future Scholar Fellows began the portion
of their program whereby they can physically take part in preserving
our Jewish history and heritage.
By 9:00 AM, the JewishGen Fellows were at the Krzepice, Poland Jewish
Cemetery. They were met at the cemetery by 9th graders (along with
their teacher and principal) >from the local non-Jewish high school,
who came to help with the clean-up.
After getting to know each other, Steven D. Reece and Przemek Panasiuk
gave a general orientation which described the nature of our work,
some differences between Jewish and Christian burial practices, and
some of the Halachik guidelines which pertain to visiting and working
in a Jewish cemetery.
Before officially getting started with the task at hand, JewishGen
Fellow Sophia Stepansky recited the traditional Jewish blessing
recited upon visiting a cemetery for the first time in thirty days,
and which describes our collective belief in the eventual revival of
After that, the JewishGen Fellows went to work, often in partnership
with the students. The Fellows used a variety of tools, including
power tools, to clean the cemetery, and throughout the course of the
day, a number of Matzevot (tombstones) were discovered after cleaning
During lunch, the Fellows discussed why this type of work was
meaningful, and also explored some of the history behind Jewish burial
In the evening, after a reflection exercise with Steven Reece, Dr. Dan
Oren led a fascinating session about how to decipher Matzevot. He gave
an overview of some common acronyms, abbreviations, phrases, and
images, which are generally found on a tombstone, along with some
specific examples of complicated epitaphs >from which much can be
learned about a person's life.
Tomorrow, the JewishGen Fellows will be back at the cemetery, again
with students >from the local non-Jewish high school. In addition, at
3PM (GMT+2), Dr. Dan Oren will be on Facebook Live (>from the Krzepice,
Poland Jewish Cemetery) with Avraham Groll to discuss the importance
of the JewishGen Fellowship Program, the history of the Jewish
cemetery here, and why there are so many cast-iron Matzevot in this
particular cemetery. In addition, there will be additional
opportunities to hear >from the JewishGen Fellows throughout the day.
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