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Hidden in Plain Sight
August 19, 2022: The Bialystok Cemetery Restoration Fund secured permission from both the Chief Rabbi of Poland and The City of Bialystok, under careful supervision by the Commission for Jewish Cemeteries of Poland, to excavate and recover matzevoth and human remains from a mound on unused land adjacent to Bagnowka Cemetery. These matzevoth and human remains were removed from the Rabbinic Cemetery located in the city center during the 1960s while Bialystok was under Soviet control. This mound, part of Bagnowka, and the surrounding land were used as a park by residents, many of whom knew of its contents. Over 120 burial markers were carefully recovered, removed, photographed, and catalogued before being transferred inside Bagnowka’s walls for temporary safekeeping. Human remains were placed in burial shrouds with a formal burial conducted on Bagnowka Cemetery under the supervision of Rabbi Itzhak Rapoport. A memorial is being planned near the original location in the city center. The funds raised will be used to offset the recovery costs and re-installation in a memorial park to be established in the Central Park near the former Rabbinic Cemetery. This work is planned for August 2023. In addition, funds raised will be used to continue ongoing restoration efforts inside Bagnowka Cemetery. These efforts include headstone restoration and restoration of other key historical structures on the cemetery. Such structures as the memorial pillar, commemorating the 1905 & 1906 pogroms, and two rabbinic ohels (mausoleums) will be restored once adequate funding is achieved.
The B.C.R.F., a nonprofit 501(C)3 designation, was created in 2016 with its primary objective to Right-a-Wrong. The mission of the organization is to restore and preserve the remnants of the once thriving Jewish community of Bialystok, Poland as represented in its only surviving Jewish cemetery, ensuring that our ancestors will be properly remembered and cherished according to Jewish traditions.
Since established the B.C.R.F.’s volunteer work has restored and preserved over 1500 tombstones/matzevoth that had been vandalized. Over thirty families have been reunited with their ancestors as a result of our work. Many local Bialystokers have joined us in our efforts. Your generous donations will be used to continue our efforts to Right-a-Wrong.
More information about Bialystok Cemetery Restoration Fund Inc: Restoration of a Jewish Cemetery in Bialystok, Poland please visit www.bialystokcemeteryrestoration.org