The Jewish cemetery covers a large area of beautiful woodland, the number of graves attesting to the rich Jewish presence in Warsaw until the holocaust. More recent graves are often marble in neat rows; older ones crowded and tumbledown, covered in moss. Fallen leaves cover tracks and blanket gravestones.
I acknowledge the multiple layers of my incomprehension: I can’t read Yiddish, Hebrew or Polish; I don’t know anything about Jewish symbology; I am ignorant of Jewish custom. So I settle for a ramble, photographing whatever catches my eye without a search for meaning. Maybe one day I’ll join a guided tour.
My eye is drawn to individual stones, as it was in the Nerrigundah and Moruya cemeteries at home, but I can’t really draw any conclusions.
I also notice details: the reverent placing of memorial stones, moss, engravings, nature’s arrangement of leaves, those signs of dereliction – rust, wear and topple.
I share the cemetery with a woman scrubbing family gravestones with brush, bucket and gloves; a few tour groups standing with bowed heads; and other tourists like me. At the entrance, a group of chanting black-hatted orthodox Jews. I stand back respectfully as they flow up the path I’m taking, and then note that some of them are tapping away at their mobiles.
You can check out a couple of previous visits by following these links