Can the Jewish cemeteries of Eastern Europe serve as locations for innovative educational and cultural programmes?
This was the central question addressed by Dr Rachel Lichtenstein in her role as Projects Officer of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage which has been involved in an EU-funded Jewish cemeteries preservation project in a consortium alongside the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (ESJF) and Centropa. The answer is contained in the final report of the ‘Deep Dive’ project now released.
During the past year, Rachel steered a range of creative and educational activities at seven Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe, working closely with Centropa Line Managers and seven locally based country co-ordinators, whose knowledge was essential to the success of this project. Some of the cemeteries are well known based in major capital cities. Others are satellite burial grounds, chosen for various reasons including their ecological or historic value, or due to existing partnerships with local teachers or communities.
The aim of the Deep Dive programme was to demonstrate how these Jewish cemeteries can be used as cultural tourist and heritage sites, as well as places of significance for educational purposes, whilst also promoting European values of cross-cultural understanding and inclusion, and honouring the Jewish communities who once lived in these places.
The project showcased different ways of creatively using these sites. Various initiatives were developed to serve as case studies for the future. The potential of such sites for interpretation, local community engagement, developing heritage skills, and for general educational, cultural, artistic and touristic purposes was explored. This included potential inclusion in municipal development strategies, benefiting from what has already been achieved in other major cities, and trialling the application of new types of activity including the use of digital technologies. The activities range from digital audio guides, heritage trails and artistic interventions, all developed in partnership with local people and institutions, whilst remaining appropriate to and, most critically, respectful of these sites, their complex histories and religious functions.
The Report can be read here - Deep Dive Report
The full press release can be read below.