Walking through the Jewish cemetery

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

https://fivemonthsinwarsaw.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/warsaw-seats-graveyards/
https://fivemonthsinwarsaw.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/all-saints-day-november-1st/ (the second half)

 

 

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About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
This entry was posted in photos and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Walking through the Jewish cemetery

  1. Sue says:

    This wonderful place looks quite different in the autumn light…I will have to visit Warsaw again in October!

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  2. Tish Farrell says:

    The slide show is excellent, Meg, though the images moodily disturbing. Those huddles of grey and listing stones!

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  3. Angela Ott says:

    Hi! The symbols at the tops of the stones represent the 12 Tribes or families. Each family has a traditional symbol and role in the community. For example, when you see the Star Trek Vulcan salute, it represents a member of the Kohen (Aaron) family, who was traditionally the class of priests. The Star Trek sign was Leonard Nimoy’s salute to his Jewish heritage!

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  4. restlessjo says:

    It really doesn’t matter about understanding, Meg. A graveyard is a graveyard is a graveyard. You’ve captured it beautifully, but regardless of circumstances they are departed souls. Poignant, yes, but there are many unhappy histories. I must owe you a handful of hugs now 🙂 🙂

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  5. Heyjude says:

    You know that I like to wander in graveyards, the older the better, and it is fascinating to see the different symbols – and to get an understanding from a fellow blogger as to their meaning. We never stop learning.

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  6. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I find the three graves with semi circle headstones, in what looks like a sunken area rather disturbing, if you ever go on the tour I’d like to know more about them.

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  7. Pingback: The Jewish cemetery under snow | 12monthsinwarsaw

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