The construction of the Przerośl Jewish Cemetery was approved by the local bishop in 1826. About the size of a football field, it was a dignified and peaceful setting, surrounded by a wall that was both beautiful and protective.
Beginning in 1939 Jewish cemeteries all over Poland were damaged by the German invasion. Most of the Jewish cemeteries were severely damaged or obliterated during the Holocaust years, later reverting to wilderness. Remaining headstones were often used as building materials, first by Germans, later by Poles.
By the 21st century, the Przerośl Jewish Cemetery had become impassable, more of a small forest than a cemetery. Finding the graves of ancestors—Frankel, Margolis, Bramson, Abramski, Myszkowski, and others—no longer seemed to be a realistic possibility.
Starting in 2017, Przerośl descendants from several continents have traveled to Przerośl every summer (until work was suspended due to the pandemic), determined to clear and restore the cemetery. In this effort, the descendants have enjoyed the able assistance and unmatched expertise of The Matzevah Foundation (TMF), as well as the support of local residents and officials, including:
The Mayor of Przerośl: Marcin Brzozowski.
The Deputy County Commissioner: Rafał Bukowski.
A local historian and school headmaster interested in the Jewish history of the area: Kazimierz Leończuk.
A professor of art history with 300 years of Przerośl roots: Jan Wiktor Sienkiewicz—a descendent of the bishop who approved the building of the cemetery nearly 200 years ago.
The daughter of a Przerośl native: Agata Liszewska of Paris, who worked with us in 2018 and 2019—a driving force on the committee of local residents and officials.
Although we were unable to travel there in 2020 or 2021, our partners in Przerośl were able to hire and oversee a local worker to clear the cemetery, coordinating with the town, the legal owner of the cemetery—Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODŻ)—and the regional curator of historical monuments.
We’ve made great progress, but we need your help. We need to complete the arduous task of clearing the cemetery grounds and finding, cleaning, and transcribing the headstones. We need to rebuild the wall. We need to design and build a monument to honor the lives of our ancestors. And we need to establish a mechanism that will allow our local partners, who are eager to help, to continue to maintain the cemetery as a place of honor and dignity.
Please help us by volunteering to join us in Przerośl or by giving what you can.
For more information about the project to restore the Przerośl Jewish Cemetery, please visit:
The Przerośl project was featured in an article about restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe that appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of B’nai B’rith Magazine.
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