JewishGen Future Scholars Fellows - Day 7 Recap #galicia


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
JewishGen.org

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