Marvin A. Brooks & Adv. Michael H. Traison
Implementation of The Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration
Restoration works at the cemetery of Wysokie Mazowieckie.
The restoration of the Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery which started in 2000 is to commence 29 May 2006 under the direction of Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland. Utilizing donations collected to date this Phase of the restoration, which is to take 3 months, is to include up-righting as many as possible of the 107 matezvoh, building a suitable monument and fencing with a gate approximately 1/3 of the total perimeter of 600 meters. Donations of approximately $15,000 US are presently being requested to complete the construction of the remaining fencing.
It has been well over a year since we last contacted you to ask for your financial support. We do that now with no more promises of action, but a report that we will in fact initiate the restoration on 29 May 2006 with completion of the described work (see below) scheduled to occur three months from this date.
We need your help. Please read on:
Chronological History of the Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration Project:
As recounted by Michael Traison:
“The project can be traced back to the January 2000, when Wojtek Faszcezewsk, a student from Wysokie, who was studying in Michigan (US), told me about the so called “Jewish Forest” in his home town. Wojtek’s father is a prominent banker in the town.
That led to the first journey of many in which I become close with the family of Marek Rupieta, a local high school teacher. During the first trip I discovered the meaning of the words "Jewish forest" was an overgrown cemetery with macewot fallen over, some partially covered by the earth and the rest also obscured by the thick brush.
I met with the mayor that summer, gave him 1000 zloty and he sent a crew of workers to the cemetery to clean it up, revealing 107 tombstones.
In later trips I met with students from the local high school and enlisted their help and subsequently met with a former high school principal who had written about the towns Jewish past.
At Wojtek's instigation, and with the help of one of my law partners in our western Michigan office, we located several cartons of baseball equipment not being used in Grand Rapids Michigan and shipped it to Wysokie for use in Marek Rupieta's school.
Over the next several years I also had the help of others. I asked Ada Holtzman, an Israeli who had recruited me to rebuild the Rozan Jewish Cemetery, to build a Wysokie website. She did and Wysokie descendants began to reach out and contact me.
One November 1 I received a call from Dagna Rupieta asking me if it was ok that she and her friends had gone to the Jewish forest to light a memorial candle, as is the custom in Catholic cemeteries on all saints day”.
In 2003, Marvin Brooks became the coordinator for the Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration under the guidance of the Polish Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project (PJCRP) (http://www.pjcrp.org/ ) under the capable leadership of Norman Weinberg who had lead major cemetery restorations in Ozarow and other towns within Poland. It was at that time, that Michael and Marvin combined efforts toward the goal of cemetery restoration.
In 2004, under the auspices of PJCRP the cemetery initial discussions were conducted with Rabbi Shudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland and the town officials. A survey was commissioned to define the cemetery boundaries.
From 2003-2006 Funds were collected to arrive at this stage.
Recent Progress had been accomplished on many fronts and is a summarized below:
Completion of a Survey. The property survey was completed and shows the cemetery to be approximately 100 x 200 meters (600 meter perimeter). There are about 100 matzevoh on the cemetery ground (http://www.zchor.org/wysokie/report.htm )
Ownership of the Cemetery Land: The land upon which the cemetery sits has been turned over by the Polish Government to the Polish Jewish Community to allow restoration to initiate.
Funding. We have been most fortunate to have a major supporter (a descendent of a Jewish community of Wysokie Mazowieckie) provide the major portion of the funds required for this major portion of the restoration. We have collected almost $25,000 of which $4,000 has been spent on the preliminary phases to prepare for the restoration.
Project Oversight. We thank the Polish Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project Team (PJCRP) and in particular Norman Weinberg and his team for his efforts in the initial phases of the project. We are most pleased to announce that the final phases of the reconstruction (the actual restoration) will be conducted by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ; http://www.fodz.pl/ ) lead by Monika Krawczyk and her wonderful team who have lead restoration of important Jewish sites throughout Poland. The Foundation (FODZ) is now responsible for legal and all other matters related to the cemetery
Rabbinical Approvals. Rabbi Shudrich, The Chief Rabbi of Poland, has supported this project and will continue to do so through restoration to ensure work is done in accord with Hallacha (Jewish Law)
Wysokie Mazowieckie Government. The Burmistrz of Wysokie Mazowieckie has given his full support and we have the good faith of the city. .
Agency for Contribution to the Project. All existing funds were transferred from PJCRP to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC; http://www.jdc.org/ ) who have and will continue to transfer funds from donors to FODZ. JDC has been very cooperative. An advantage of using JDC is that they are part of matching funds for many US corporations to allow some of are donations to double.
Phase I Restoration:
The Maztevoh will be set upright, cleaned and photograph. We have some volunteers for translation and will look to others for help. A database of names will be constructed
A Memorial will be placed within the grounds of the cemetery. The monument will be sizable, permanent and impressive. It will have a plaque to tell of the Jews of Wysokie Mazowieckie and will be the first time a tangible monument will be erected to the Jews of the town. We may use fragments of the Matzevoh in this monument.
Metal fencing (1.5-2 meter height) around 1/3 of the total perimeter with a gate will be constructed.
Phase II Restoration
This phase consists of completion of the last 2/3 of the fence (approximately $15,000) and is the subject of this appeal.
Phase I restoration is to take 3 months and if funds are received over this time the fence can be extended.
Please donate today through JDC (ask for matching funds if your qualified) so that we can continue to extend the fence in this 3 month period or in the future.
Please send donations to:
Attn: Neil Malmud
Joint Distribution Committee
711 Third Ave
New York, NY 10017
Please note in your Letter: Donation for Restoration of Wysokie Mazowieckie, Poland Cemetery Restoration. Also please send me so I can verify receipt of donation.
Extension of the fence will allow us to completely contain this holy area and help prevent further desecrations.
Comments from Michael Traison:
“People ask why I initiated this project, usually assuming, incorrectly, that my immediate family is from Wysokie Mazowieckie. The answer today is the same one I explained to that group of 18 Wysokie Mazowiecki high school kids I took out for pizza 6 years ago, and which is stated on a
lapel pin I have worn everyday for 16 years. Zachor! Remember!
For we once walked these streets of Wysokie Mazowieckie, the aroma of our food cooking in the kitchens in homes along those streets wafting its way thru the same town square awaiting the return of the pious who were gathered in the wooden synagogue which once stood there and is no more.
We remember them, and our fellow Jews in Zamborow and Tykocin and Lomza and Wengrow and tens of hundreds of more shtetlach, towns and cities of a Jewish Civilization that is no more.
The monument which will stand there will help us all remember these precious souls who perished at the hands of the German nation. It will stand close to the Catholic cemetery: Our two peoples at eternal rest near one another will be in its shadow and it will stand as a sign for the future positive relationship between the Jewish and Polish nations.”
You now can believe that restoration of the Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery is a reality!! It is time for those who have withheld their support or have given partial support to step up and contribute toward the completion of this important project.
It would be a wonderful honor to our ancestors if we could complete the entire project this summer.
Marvin & Michael
Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration
Marvin: Lakebenj "at" comcast.net (215-542-0712) (replace "at" with @ to avoid spam
Michael: http://www.millercanfield.com (313-496-7657)
29 May 2006
The re-erected tombstone of Szlomo Baruch in the Jewish cemetery of Wysokie Mazowiecki
The Cemetery before Restorarion
The Restored Cemetery
The Recovered Tombstones
Back to Wysokie Mazowieckie Memorial Web Site
Last updated November 3rd, 2006