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BIALYGen

Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group


2006 UPDATE ON WSCHODNIA STREET CEMETERY IN BIALYSTOK

Background

There is only one remaining Jewish Cemetery in Bialystok that still has above ground remnants of its past existence. Over the years since the end of World War II, it has been ravaged by thievery, vandalism, neglect, and the indifference of the local authorities. Currently the Wschodnia Street Cemetery is owned by the City of Bialystok and serves as a public park. 

View of Wschodnia Street Cemetery

Section of Cemetery Torched by Vandals

Dumping of Debris from Catholic Cemetery

Graffiti on Cemetery Wall

Hopefully, this spiral of neglect has been reversed and restoration of this Cemetery -- where many of our ancestors were interned -- will move forward. 

This Cemetery has been claimed by the Foundation for Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) under Polish laws that regulate the process of restitution of former Jewish communal properties. 

Recently, an important symbolic and practical step was taken with the closing of an entry way into the Cemetery on its Eastern wall. Hopefully, this small step is a foundation for the future when our sacred burial place will be secured from the uncaring people who now use the Cemetery for dumping of garbage and for parties, and the stealing of Matzevot for construction materials.  

Opening in Eastern Wall of Cemetery

The Opening is Now Closed

The Angel of the Wschodnia Street Cemetery

For the last decade, Lucja Lisowska, a wonderful Bialystok resident of Jewish heritage, has taken on the role of unofficial caretaker for our Cemetery. She has opened up communications with the City of Bialystok, the Jewish Communities of Poland, and FODZ in an attempt to clean up, secure, and maintain the Cemetery. In the past two years, the City of Bialystok has paid to clean up the underbrush and young trees that have surrounded some of the remaining Matzevot near the eastern wall of the Cemetery. 

Lucy Lisowska in Front of Cemetery (March 2006)

Earlier this year, an American Jew with Bialystok roots visited the City. Lucy helped show him the Jewish historical sights in and around Bialystok, including the Cemetery. At Lucy's urging, this Bialystoker contributed money to FODZ for future needs of the Bialystok Cemetery. 

Lucy realized that to protect the Cemetery the perimeter needed to be secured. She coordinated with FODZ and the local authorities to have the opening in the eastern wall closed (see the above photos). It is through the dedication and skills of Lucy that this project was completed. Lucy, our Bialystok Angel, has other visions for the future. 


 

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Copyright 2004 BialyGen, Mark Halpern, Coordinator, All rights reserved.

Photos courtesy of Darius Stankiewicz and Mark Halpern

Last Updated on 27 June 2006.