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Lists of matzevos from Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski and Rohatyn now available online

New lists of headstones from Jewish cemeteries in Poland have been published on the Virtual Shtetl portal. The registers come from the cemeteries in Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski and Rohatyn.

Since 2011, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews has run the Memory in Stone project, which aims to take stock of headstones in Jewish cemeteries. Names of the dead are deciphered from the photographs of matzevos, to be later translated from Hebrew into Polish or English. The photographs and translations are published on the Virtual Shtetl portal.

There are approx. one thousand and two hundred Jewish cemeteries, the current condition of which varies. Most of them, however, are in disrepair. The majority of cemetery records and registers of the dead have been destroyed.


Our project called ‘Memory in Stone’ helps people who are searching for graves of their ancestors and their Jewish origins. Most of them live far away from Poland, and therefore it is hard for them to come to Europe. Lists of matzevos are also a valuable historical source for researchers of the history and legacy of local Jewish communities. We also hope that in the awareness of the inhabitants of towns, the publication of photographs of headstones and of names of the deceased will transform unnamed and unidentified stones with intelligible inscriptions into specific burial sites of people with concrete names, such as David, Rachel or Sarah.

Thus far, we have compiled lists of headstones in seventy-nine cemeteries. This year, we are planning to take stock of five thousands graves. It is worth highlighting that the project has been made possible thanks to the financial help of users of the Virtual Shtetl portal. Thanks to your donations, we can pay for the expenses of the research trips and of translations from Hebrew. Even token donations paid via PayPal to the Museum help create a valuable comprehensive documentation of Jewish cemeteries and bring forgotten names of former Jewish inhabitants back to light.

The headstones in Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski and Rohatyn were photographed by members of the “Nie z tej bajki” Association and by Marla Raucher Osborn. Hebrew grave inscriptions have been translated into Polish by Renata Uszynska.

By Krzysztof Bielawski

English translation: WJ