Volunteers from 7 countries clear historic Jewish cemetery in Poland
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Volunteers from 7 countries clear historic Jewish cemetery in Poland

Overgrown burial ground in Warsaw contains 80,000 graves; workers will take part in events related to community's culture

At the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw. (photo credit: Kuba Wyszynski/JTA)
At the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw. (photo credit: Kuba Wyszynski/JTA)

An international group of 18 volunteers from Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, the Czech Republic and Turkey with the help of seven volunteer Polish scouts from Poznan are cleaning a Jewish cemetery in Warsaw.

The work on the Jewish cemetery at Okopowa Street in Warsaw began on August 16 and will continue through August 24. The organizer of the project, the Cultural Heritage Foundation, has been carrying out cleaning work in this cemetery for three years. This year, together with the One World Association, the foundation invited young people from abroad to participate.

Participants will take part in discussions, lectures and thematic walks connected to Jewish culture in Warsaw, as well as visit the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw synagogue.

“The cemetery is largely undiscovered, and access to many cemetery quarters is hampered by wild plants. Thanks to the help of over 100 volunteers, we managed to organize almost 3 hectares of the cemetery,” coordinator of the volunteer projects of the Jewish Heritage Foundation, Ola Waszak, told JTA.

Cleaning work consists mainly of cleaning of the oldest part of the cemetery and removing broken tree boughs and plants. Preliminary cleaning of the cemetery is essential to allow qualified conservationists and visitors to gain access to historic gravestones. All work is supervised by the director of the cemetery, the Jewish Community in Warsaw and the Jewish Historical Institute.

Founded in 1806, the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw’s Wola district is one of the largest in the world, with over 80,000 identified gravestones.

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