The Foundation for Jewish Heritage has released two new reports on the Jewish cemeteries of Eastern Europe.
Commissioned by the Foundation, these reports are part of an unprecedented European Union funded initiative to preserve and promote awareness of the 1,700 Jewish cemeteries in seven countries in Eastern Europe – Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The project is being implemented by three consortium partners – the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (ESJF), and Centropa.
Jewish Cemeteries as an Educational Resource in High School Education: exploring current practices, challenges and future opportunities in teaching about Jewish Heritage and the Holocaust in seven European countries by Prof Joanna Michlic examines how Jewish cemeteries can serve as ‘outdoor classrooms’ and be a profound tool for teachers to use in educating pupils on the Jewish story of their town. Her study focuses on secondary school systems and authorities, investigating the possibility of integrating the Jewish experience into school curricula. The report also explores decision-making processes within the education system and assesses the readiness of teacher training institutes to address the topic.
Jewish Cemeteries as Visitor Destinations: exploring current practices, current challenges and sustainable futures in seven European countries by Dr Paul Darby investigates the potential of Jewish cemeteries as recognised heritage sites and visitor destinations. He considers the appeal of Jewish cemeteries as historical and cultural landmarks, shedding light on their capacity to attract visitors and tourists seeking to engage with Eastern Europe's rich Jewish heritage, and the benefits that can accrue.
These two reports represent important new research, and a significant statement on the current possibilities, while also addressing the very real challenges and the sensitivities.
The approach taken by both Prof Michlic and Dr Darby involved listening carefully to voices from the region, and those with a particular interest in and expertise on the subject. In many places, the Jewish cemetery is the last physical evidence of once thriving Jewish life. Indeed, the very existence of these Jewish communities has become largely marginalised and forgotten. The projects not only address the preservation of cemeteries, but position this as preservation with a special purpose – to ensure that the Jewish presence in Eastern Europe is recalled, understood, commemorated and celebrated.
The full press release is available below