This stone shall be a witness unto us... (Joshua; 24; 27)
Benyamin Yaari:Notes and Explanations
The Jewish cemetery of Czestochowa is presently located within the area of the "HUTA" iron foundry. The entrance to the cemetery is through the main gate of the factory, at a distance of one and a half kilometers from the gate. The cemetery is in the neighborhood called "Miroe" and in the local idiom "Kocelnik" after the name of Huber river nearby.
The cemetery is mostly surrounded by a wall that was repaired and in some parts rebuilt between 1970-1988 by the "Huta" iron foundry, according to instructions given by the local authorities. In 1970, a registration of tombstones (about 5008) was made. Measurements were taken, and a map drawn up of the cemetery, as well as the weeding-out of trees and bushes - activities undertaken in preparation of the transfer of the land areas bordering on the Jewish cemetery to the "Huta" property. This material was kept in a "black file" in the district archives and was given to us for review by Dr. Broda. In the same file we found documents from November 28, 1988 including: a description of the cemetery areas and details on the ownership registered in the Jewish cemetery since its founding in 1799. Also found was a proposal from 1988 for a program to establish a Lapidarium in the form of a Jewish star to which would be transferred selected tombstones. In this document the present shrubbery is detailed, and there is a proposal to uproot trees and plant others. Among the documents was a letter addressed to the Jewish Orthodox community of Warsaw protesting the suggestion to transfer tombstones to the Lapidarium. We found in this material diagrams of the boundaries of the cemetery. We copied these diagrams and added an inner division of nine areas. This was done in consultation with Dr. Broda.
The tombstones of Area 1 were given the numbers 100 - 1000 for identification. In area no. 2, no tombstones were found. In areas 3,4 and 6, tombstones were numbered from 1100-1990. In area 5, the tombstones were numbered from 2000 - 2990. In area 7, from 3000 to 3500. In area 8: from 4000 - 4500 and in area 9 form 5000 - 5050.
Tombstones photographed by us at the cemetery and not included in the original lists were given numbers beginning with the digit "7". Digits "8" and "9" were given to tombstones not found in their designated location but which we added to the list from the registration done in a survey undertaken in 1985 by the local populace.
Some numbers repeat themselves in the numbering of the tombstones. This is result of additional tombstones found in the location of tombstones corresponding to the initial registration. In this case, a letter was added (for example: "556b").
For tombstones of "symbolic burial" - for victims of the Holocaust - all the names are registered on the same tombstone and carry the same number.
A staff of workers worked at the cemetery for a period of more than three weeks, five days a week, with great diligence. We cleared a pathway to the cemetery areas. We overturned tombstones which had toppled over, lying face down in the ground. We unearthed tens of tombstones lying in the ground. With the help of water brought in barrels, brushes and chemical detergents, we cleaned the tombstones and prepared them for registration. Interesting and beautiful gravestones were discovered. We were especially touched by the discovery of ancient gravestones with prominent letters. These tombstones were of various styles, with symbols and fine sculpting.
We found eulogies and words of praise for the departed on the tombstones set in song and beautiful prose. Tombstones from the middle of the preceding century were inscribed in Hebrew and partly in Yiddish. On the ancient tombstones, the family name was not written at all but rather the first name of the departed and that of his father. Married women carried the name of their husbands. Beginning with the end of the last century, we found tombstones with Latin inscriptions in Polish or German, parallel to the square script of the Hebrew. From the 1930s on, some of the tombstones were in Latin characters only. Of the tombstones set up after the Holocaust, most of them have only Polish inscriptions.
To commemorate victims of the Holocaust, we inscribed the names of those who perished in the Holocaust on a number of old tombstones as a "symbolic grave" set up by family members or friends who had survived. These inscriptions were also generally written in Polish. Added, as Appendix no. 3 to the book are the contents of these tombstones. In addition to a listing of the names of those murdered in the Holocaust, there is a general alphabetical list according to family name.
In the list of tombstones arranged according to numbers, there are the following signs:
&indicates "notes, special signs and inscriptions" published in Appendix no 1.
#Indicates maiden names of married women (nee), published in Appendix no 2.
We sometimes encountered the name of the engraver who made the tombstones, written above the tombstones. The most common name we found was "REUCH". On several tombstones his name appeared in Latin characters as: P. REUCH". Many tombstones were signed with the name "PERETZ". The names "GELBER" and "FRANK" also appeared on a number of tombstones. On one of the tombstones we found a Latin inscription with the name "HASKOLOWICZ", perhaps a Christian. It is known that there were several non-Jewish grave-carvers.
On certain tombstones remained traces of colors: red, black, and yellow. In Czestochowa, there were also tombstones with letters in gold (1827 - 1976 - 1967 - 1953 - 2082 - 2089).
The Tomb of a Righteous Person, the zaddik or Hassidic Rebbe
The tombstone, which we marked as 1706, was of the Admo"r of Pelz, the famous Hassidic Rebbe known as Ichak Mayer Justman. This was the most often visited grave in the cemetery of Czestochowa. Groups of Jews from Israel, United States and from throughout the world thronged to the gravesite and left "kvetitlech" - small notes or wishful letters.
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