The New ESJF Survey Co-funded by the EU
In the framework of the European Commission’s call for a pilot project Protecting the Jewish cemeteries of Europe: A full mapping process with research and monitoring and individual costed proposals for protection, the ESJF was awarded 800,000 EUR to survey 1,500 Jewish burial sites across five European countries.
The project started in December 2018, and until its completion in June 2020, it will carry out extensive research and survey work, and establish local cooperation with authorities and educational institutionsin Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
The mapping process is undertaken using state-of-the-art technology specially designed for the project, involving engineering drones which survey and photograph the sites from the air. Centuries–old records across many countries and languages are consulted to write the sites’ history. Signs are placed at each site surveyed, marking the work that has been done.
In each country, the ESJF cooperates with local Jewish communities to undertake this work, and to deliver the message of a need to save this shared heritage on the ground. Incorporating the cemeteries psychologically and physically as an integral part of their own local heritage is crucial to ensure their long-term protection. A strong collaboration with local and regional governments as well as the local population through awareness-raising campaigns and educational programmes is therefore mandatory to prevent desecration of the holy burial sites.
The data gathered in these surveys is used to develop a free, open-access database, that can serve as a reference point for everybody. As such, it can facilitate further research, advocacy and protection. Complete public online access to this historical information is central in its recognition as not only Jewish but European heritage, with potential synergies to many other initiatives across and beyond the EU.