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The Jewish community will restore the Jewish cemetery in Kalisz

Several days ago, the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich visited Kalisz to inspect the area of the former Jewish cemetery, which currently holds an educational and correctional centre. The Rabbi met with local authorities to discuss a further course of action.

Under the 1997 act, the area should be returned to former owners, or rather their successors, i.e. the Polish Union of Polish Jewish Communities.

Prior to the outbreak of WWII, the old cemetery was located between Nowy Świat, Ostrowska and Handlowa Streets. The graveyard was set up in ca 1287, when Duke Przemysław II confirmed in writing the purchase of the land to serve that purpose.

Burials were held until WWII. The graveyard was one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries throughout Poland. Unfortunately, during WWII, it was wiped away together with Kalisz Jews. In the 1940s, the Nazis plundered hundreds of matzevot, which dated from one hundred years ago. Some were used to pave the river embankment of the Rypinkowski canal, others paved the streets. In 1960s, a housing estate, a medical centre and the educational and correction centre for disabled youth were built in the cemetery. Plaques with information about the history of the place have been arranged near the centre.

In the 1980s, the Nissenbaum Foundation extracted the tombstones from the embankment. Matzevos and parts of tombstones were eventually transported to the new cemetery on Podmiejska Street.

The Jewish Religious Community in Wrocław and the Kalisz town have organized prolonged negotiations on the transfer of the cemetery land. In 2012, the Kalisz local government purchased the building on Kardeckiego Street, the prospective new seat of the centre.

The restoration works of the building will be due before summer holidays so that the centre can move in before the new school year begins. In this case, the former location of the centre will be returned to the proper owners. According to the city President Janusz Pęcherz, the Jewish community should draw an early urban plan which would meet the interest and expectations of the city hall, especially in terms of combining religious functions with cultural and tourist benefits.

The Chief Rabbi of Poland will visit Kalisz on March 7th, 2013, to attend the inauguration of an exhibition on the Statute of Kalisz.

Source:  (29.01.2013 )