The Project to Restore the
Przerosl Jewish Cemetery
We're looking for volunteers to help restore the cemetery
We need your help.
Although the Village of Przerosl boasted a Jewish population of perhaps 600 in the mid-1800s, there is virtually no trace of Jewish presence today.
There is, however, one notable exception: Surrounded by the remains of an ornamental stone fence, the Przerosl Jewish Cemetery covers the same 1.5-acre plot that it has occupied for nearly 300 years. Unlike the thousands of Jewish cemeteries in Poland and throughout central Europe that were completely obliterated during the Holocaust, the Przerosl Jewish Cemetery has somehow managed to survive.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the cemetery is in terrible condition, so overgrown with vegetation that you might think you're walking through the woods rather than a cemetery. It does not appear to have been maintained in any way since the war so even though it was spared the violence that damaged or destroyed so many other Jewish sites, the cemetery is in the process of returning to nature.
Those of us who are descended from the Jewish community of Przerosl can't help but wonder if any of our ancestors are buried there. Przerosl was the home of the Margolis, Myszkowski, Abramski, Bramson, Frankel, Motulski, and Wartelski families, among many others. Members of families from Przerosl married into families in nearby towns, including Suwalki, Lomza, Szczuczyn, Rajgrod, Grajewo, and Filipow. Przerosl families emigrated to the American Midwest (especially Ohio and Illinois), to Palestine, to Paris, and to other countries all around the globe. But wherever we are today, it's likely that many of us have ancestors who were laid to rest in the Przerosl Jewish Cemetery.
In 2003, an effort was launched in the U.S. to restore the cemetery. Funds were raised, contacts were established in the village, local students even interviewed elderly residents and wrote essays about the Jews who used to live among them. But largely because of the awkwardness involved in administering a project of that magnitude from thousands of miles away, the project was ultimately abandoned.
But by a fortunate coincidence, an organization was being formed in Poland at about the same time. The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) was created with the specific mission of "protecting and commemorating the surviving monuments of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland." Over the last decade, that mission has grown to include the coordination of projects to restore dozens of Jewish cemeteries. And so in the summer of 2015, the Project to Restore the Przerosl Jewish Cemetery (PRPJC) was organized to raise funds so that the Przerosl Jewish Cemetery can finally be restored as part of the Adopt a Jewish Cemetery initiative under the supervision of FODZ.
More good news: In the fall of 2016, the Project to Restore the Przerosl Jewish Cemetery agreed to partner with The Matzevah Foundation (TMF), a group whose mission is to help restore Jewish cemeteries in Poland. TMF offers an unparalleled level of expertise and experience that could go a long way toward helping ensure the success of the project. They bear the unqualified endorsement of FODZ, and they've earned "rave reviews" from other restoration projects. ("Nothing but the best to say of the group." "They are a truly special group of people.") To say that we are looking forward to working with The Matzevah Foundation to restore the cemetery is a major understatement.
As you might imagine, an undertaking of this magnitude is expensive. It's probably not something that any of us can afford to do by ourselves. We may not know for a fact whether members of your family are buried in the Przerosl Jewish Cemetery, but members of somebody's family are certainly buried there. Someone's great-grandmother is buried there. Someone's cousin was laid to rest in that one-and-a-half-acre plot. We would like to honor their memories, and we need your help.
The following pages contain detailed information about the project and instructions on how you can contribute. Please feel free to email us at cemetery@Przerosl.com if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.
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