The New ESJF Survey Co-funded by the EU
Within 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 institutions in Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
The mapping process is undertaken using state-of-the-art technology specially designed for the project, including engineering drones which survey and photograph the sites from the air. Centuries–old records across many countries and languages are consulted when writing the history of the sites. Signs are placed at each site surveyed to mark the work has been completed.
In order to complete the work as comprehensively as possible, and to deliver the message of the need to protect this shared heritage on the ground, the ESJF works closely with the local Jewish communities in each of its project countries. Accepting the cemeteries both psychologically and physically as an integral part of their cultural heritage is an important step to ensuring their long-term preservation. As such, in order to prevent the desecration of these holy burial sites, strong collaboration with local and regional governments, as well as awareness-raising campaigns and educational programs for the local population are absolutely essential.
The data gathered in these surveys is being used to develop a free, open-access database, which will serve as a universal reference point to facilitate further research, advocacy, and protection. Free access to this historical information is central to its recognition as not only Jewish but European heritage, with the potential for synergy with many other initiatives across and beyond the EU.