Restoration of the Cemetery
On my initial visit to the Jewish Cemetery in Obeliai, it had been neglected for decades, although left undeveloped by the local community, out of respect. Only 12 headstones were standing and visible in waist-high (wet!) grass.
Rabbi Mayer Abramowitz worked tirelessly for several years to renovate the cemetery. Relentless fundraising and personal sacrifice ensued, as the work costed out at USD45 per headstone.
Now over 200 stones have been righted, cleaned and recorded and the grass has been cut. There is also now a small green wooden fence around the cemetery. Rabbi Abramowitz even managed to arrange a small rededication ceremony on 7 July 2003, at which representatives from the US and British Embassies were present, along with the Mayoress of Obeliai, and the Rabbi for the district. Even a large proportion of the village's (now all non-Jewish) population, including the schoolchildren and their teacher, and the curator of the town museum, also came to pay their respects.
Rabbi Abramowitz has informed me that a fellow Abeler is trying to set up a committee to ensure the maintenance of the cemetry for the future, so that it does not slip back into the neglect of the past. Anyone interested is asked to please contact Emma via the link at the bottom of the page and she will put you in touch.
If you have any names, corrections, questions, comments or photographs of Obeliai as it was in the past or as it is now that you would like to share, or if you have found a connection here you would like to follow up, please contact Emma Freeman by clicking here or click on the Obeliai homepage to join our mailing list
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