Mogilev Cemetery Restoration fund

$3,499 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 51 people in 4 months
Created July 22, 2018
My name is Yakov Pevzner. I was born in the former USSR republic of Belarus. Mogilev is my home town and even though I have been living in the USA for about 25 years, Mogilev will always be in my heart. Here in Mogilev I went to school. Here in Mogilev I have a lot of friends and classmates I still keep in touch with.  Here in Mogilev’s Jewish cemetery my grandparents are buried. 

Ancient tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Mogilev, Belarus, are currently under the threat of complete destruction. This is particularly true for the tombstones left without the care of descendants, as many families perished under Stalin’s repressions and the Holocaust.

                Unfortunately, the current law in Belarus allows the destruction of ancient tombstones labeling them as "dilapidated" and "not subject to restoration" regardless of their cultural and historical value. The city authorities agree to postpone the destruction of monuments for 1.5 years until 2020. The Mogilev Jewish community made great efforts to preserve the memory of their ancestors. The cemetery was fenced to prevent the plundering of expensive stone monuments, and a photo catalog of the ancient part of the cemetery was created. It is available online at http://mogjewshistory.ru/page3  .
The area of the cemetery is periodically cleaned by local and international volunteers.

                However, this is not enough to preserve historical matsevot. The Jewish community is attempting to get historical and cultural monument status to the ancient part of the cemetery. Such a status will oblige the state to protect the tombstones. In order to receive this status, WE must carry out restoration work in the cemetery by repairing more than 100 monuments damaged by time or vandalism. This requires much more money than we have.

             This is where YOUR help makes a difference.  If you value Jewish heritage and believe in its timeless contribution to the world culture, please support these efforts by making a donation.

All your contributions will go directly to “Mogilev Cemetery Restoration fund”.
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In our previous update we mentioned beautiful monument of Zuckerman (Tsuckerman).
This is grave of Shmaryahu – son of Mordechai Zuckerman who was famous Mogilev merchant, banker and philanthropist. He was one of the richest and most respected citizens of the city, who died in 1878 at age of 61. Zuckerman was well educated, religious, engaged in charity. Together with several other families, he organized social support for the poor, the sick and the needy, investing in hospitals, educational institutions, etc.
In the middle of the 19th century, they bought at auction the ruins of the former palace of the Catholic Archbishop Bogush-Sestrentsevich. The building was restored and donated to the Jewish community of Mogilev. There was opened a synagogue and named after the donor - "Tsukerman Synagogue". This building has survived to the present day in the city center. Now here is a children's gymnastics sports school.
The gravestone is made of an expensive stone by Israel Auerbach, a carver from Warsaw. It is decorated with intricate carvings with elegant architectural and floral motifs, complemented by bas-reliefs with six-pointed stars. The epitaph on the tombstone is no less complex and refined than the decor. The frame of the Hebrew text resembles a Torah scroll.
Few years ago this tombstone fell and broke into two parts. One of the most important events of this year is its restoration. The multi-ton gravestone was lifted from the ground by a crane and transported to restoration specialists for renewal.
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During last two months people were working practically without any days off, trying to do as much as possible before ground gets frozen.
What's already done?
As you can see from the pictures, some pathways are laid. Some of the fallen monuments are installed back on pedestals. Others are extracted with a crane to strengthen the foundation. Tons of garbage, sand and shrubbery were removed. The beautiful marble monument of Zuckerman was taken for restoration.
Please look at the pictures.
Without you this work would not be possible.
Thanks a lot for your generosity and support.
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Thanks to everyone for your support.
Finally permits were obtained and we started to work on the restoration of several dozens of gravestones of the 2nd half of the 19th and early 20th centuries at the Jewish cemetery of Mogilev.
We started on a very small part (about 15 × 15 meters) where we will be testing our restoration techniques. It will also help to better estimates cost, methods of work, and the most suitable materials.
Garbage has been removed, and a shrub has been cut down. Fences are carefully released from ingrown trunks. The stumps of large trees are treated with a special substance so that they decay during the winter. The passages between the fences were prepared and covered with sand. We are planning to cover the path with the pavers. Then the fallen monuments will be put back on their bases and restored.
Thanks again to everyone who helps us restore the old cemetery. We will continue to upload photos and inform you about the progress of the restoration work.
Spread the word.
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Simultaneously with our fundraising effort, members of the community collected various documents needed for the recognition of the ancient site of the cemetery as a historical monument.

Here are few excerpts from the official papers, prepared by the Mogilev History Museum.

“…Many tombstones are works of art by stone-cutting masters. Particularly interesting is the ancient site of the cemetery with burials of different periods. This allows us to trace the changes of artistic styles, social and cultural changes throughout the long period of urban history…”

"…The traditional Jewish burial ritual does not differentiate by social status, wealth, or gender.
But in most cemeteries it was customary to designate a special site for the burial of rabbis and other honorable members of the community. This site is located next to the cemetery entry gate and partially preserved…”

“…It is an integral complex of remaining burial grounds that determine the uniqueness of this place. It’s the only one of its kind in Belarus.
There are graves and crypts with tombstones made of high-quality granite and marble, with highly artistic decor and poetic epitaphs. Many important people are buried here. Their business, organizational and cultural activities determined the features of the city's cultural, economic and social history and its architecture …”
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$3,499 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 51 people in 4 months
Created July 22, 2018
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