It is not easy to determine the reason for and the date of establishment of the second Jewish cemetery in Brzesko, located on Czarnowiejska Street. It may have been created after the old cemetery had run out of space. The oldest of the discovered tombstons at this cemetery is found on the grave of a woman who died in 1824. From the central gate, located in the southern part of the fence, the alley leads to two covered tombs (ohels). As was traditional at this time, graves of women are located to the left of this alley, while those of men are to the right of it. One of the ohels, funded in the 1960s by Elimelech Glantz from New York to replace a smaller one that was destroyed during World War II, serves as a kind of center of the cemetery. It was built to protect the graves of three Brzesko rabbis (and their wives) from the Lipschitz chasidic dynasty, including Tzaddik Arie Leibusz, son of Chaim, who died in 1846. Right next to it, in the mid-1990s, the second ohel was built over the graves of rabbis from the Templer family. The Brzesko cemetery occupies an area of about 3.5 acres (1.45 ha). This size dates to 1902, when the leaders of the Jewish community asked the city council to sell part of the municipal land adjacent to the cemetery from the west and south to enlarge the burial site. The Town Council agreed to the purchase of land. A year later, the Jews were allowed to move the communal road from the plot purchased from the city to the neighboring plot purchased from private hands. A fence was built around the entire enlarged area of the cemetery. This cemetery is marked with traces from both World Wars. Within its territory is war cemetery No. 275 with graves of 21 Jewish soldiers who served in the Austrian army during World War I and died in the vicinity of Brzesko. These miltary graves were renovated by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance in 2019. Tragic events of 1939-1945 are reflected in epitaphs on many post-war symbolical graves and monuments on mass graves. These include:
a monument erected in 1947 by A. Grunberg and S. Bransdorfer in honor of 200 Jews murdered by Germans on June 18, 1942;
a monument at a mass grave (2017, artist—Damian Styrna);
a monument at another mass grave (2018, artist--Damian Styrna).
For many years after the war the cemetery was taken care of by Szymon Platner, the last Brzesko Jew. Mr. Platner renovated the ohel in the 1960s and brought matzevot found elsewhere back to the cemetery. Mrs. Maria Martyna kept the keys from the cemetery for several decades. She was always ready to show the cemetery to visitors and her son Mr Zdzisław Martyna took on that responsibility after her death. However, the cemetery is rather large and it's been difficult to keep it in a proper state.
When the "Memory and Dialogue—Common History" Association first started taking care of the Brzesko Jewish cemetery in April 2015, most of the area was covered with bushes and it was only possible to walk down the main alley leading to the ohels. The Association had neither equipment nor money but wanted to do something for the people buried at the cemetery. It is difficult to count how many hours they have spent cutting bushes, collecting rubbish, mowing grass, cleaning tombstones (matzevot). At first, there was a handful of volunteers, but gradually students from nearby schools and Brzesko residents started joining them in the intense cleaning and gardening work. They have developed a good relationship with the city administration, who every couple of months have taken away from the cemetery piles of cut trees and all collected garbage. In 2018-2019, US students came to Brzesko and assisted the association in cleaning the cemetery together.
During these past six years, they cleaned the entire cemetery, and with the help of Aleksander Schwarz from the Rabbinical Commission on Jewish Cemeteries of Poland, located and commemorated two mass graves. In 2019, the Association raised money for all matzevot to be documented by Witold Wrzosiński and Remigiusz Sosnowski from the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland. In 2023 the Association was awarded a Jewish Historical Institute of Poland grant of 10,000 PLN (~$2,500) to further this documentation project.
The cemetery requires much effort to maintain it in a decent condition. The Association still regularly mows grass, cuts re-growing trees, collects garbage and cleans matzevot.
The following financial goals are critical to the continued success. The Association provides volunteer workers, but equipment and permanent logistics cost money. They are seeking to raise $5,000 to achieve the following objectives:
Creation of several plaques (in English and Polish) to tell the story of the Brzesko pre-war Jewish community and the people buried there.
Paint for the walls of the ohel, protective gloves, pruning scissors, and garbage bags.
Renovation of the tombstone of Henoch Klapholz, the Jewish former mayor of Brzesko.
Publication of a searchable website database to include the inscriptions of all the matzevot, in the original Hebrew, with Polish and English translations.
Cutting and removing dried branches and trees in danger of falling on visitors or matzevot.
A longer-term (and more expensive goal) is the restoration of the cemetery wall.
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