History of the Project
The first discussion of the Ilza Cemetery Restoration happened at the 2002 annual international conference of Jewish genealogists in Toronto. We had a luncheon of Drildzer descendants. In addition to sharing stories and photos, the idea of preserving the Ilza Cemetery was enthusiastically discussed. In attendance were: Brenda Dales, David Greenspan, Fern Phillips, Barbara Sontz, Betty Provizer Starkman, Carolynne Veffer and Jerry Zell.
Next, Betty Starkman and Barbara Sontz provided funds to the Polish Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project (PJCRP) to start initial investigations into the Ilza cemetery site. Results of the initial investigation were received from Andrzej Omasta, our Polish contact. This included pictures of the cemetery site, pictures of a mass grave, a map of the grounds and a recommendation for next steps.
Following that, there was a meeting of the Toronto Drildzer
Congregation & Society to discuss their support for the
restoration of the Jewish cemetery in Ilza. Betty Starkman from
Michigan presented old photos, a history of Ilza and genealogical
data. Barbara Sontz from New York City brought photos from her
recent trip to Ilza and presented plans for creating a cemetery
restoration project. The Society agreed to lead the effort in
restoring the cemetery in Ilza. A committee was organized, with
Brenda and Barney Dales as co-chairs.