Lodz Area Research Group #Lodz #Poland JewishGen Future Scholars Fellows - Day 7 Recap #poland #lodz

Nancy Siegel

Report >from Poland - Day 7:

Today, the JewishGen Future Scholar Fellows spent their second day
cleaning up the Krzepice, Poland Jewish Cemetery. After a 7:45 AM
breakfast, they made their way to the cemetery, where they were joined
by a different group >from the local non-Jewish high school, who came
to help in the clean-up process.

As part of the leadership training opportunities provided by
JewishGen, the Fellows gave an introduction and orientation to the
high-school students. They explained the significance of our work,
proper decorum for a cemetery, and what the students might encounter
throughout the day.

Before officially getting started with the tasks at hand, JewishGen
Fellow Sophia Stepansky read the English translation of the
traditional Jewish blessing which is recited upon visiting a cemetery
for the first time in thirty days, and which describes our collective
belief in the eventual revival of the dead.

As brush was cleared, numerous Matzevot became visible, many of them
covered with dirt and or moss. After cleaning them with special
brushes, the JewishGen Fellows, led by Rivka Schiller, gave the
students a brief overview of some of the information contained on a
traditional Jewish tombstone.

In the morning, the Fellows heard >from a local historian, who
explained that Krzepice was extremely close to the German border in
1939, and became one of the first towns destroyed by the Nazis. When
the Nazis came into town, they immediately murdered dozens of people,
as many as 100, and took a tank and plowed through the cemetery. In
the afternoon, Steven D. Reece showed the Fellows what he believes are
three possible mass-grave sites within the cemetery.

After dinner, Avraham Groll gave an evening session to the Fellows
which focused on common obstacles that people encounter when
researching their Jewish roots, and how JewishGen can help. Avraham
explained that the Fellows are now ambassadors on behalf of JewishGen
and that we will be relying on them to help spread awareness of
JewishGen's important work to their peer and contemporaries.

Tomorrow, the JewishGen Fellows will be back at the cemetery for the
final day, this time joined by approximately 10 special needs adults.
In the afternoon, they will be visited by representatives >from the
Chief Rabbinate of Poland, which will explain some of the effort
undertaken to preserve Jewish cemeteries and sites of Mass Murder.
Before returning home for the evening, the JewishGen Fellows will also
visit the only remaining synagogue in Krzepice. While it is unsafe to
enter the building, it represents the last remnant of Jewish life in
Krzepice (aside >from the cemetery).

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Nancy Siegel
Communications Coordinator

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