Lagodekhi (Tsitelgori) Jewish Cemetery
In December 1927, after the establishment of the Soviet government in Georgia, the Georgian branch of the OZET (Land Management Society) was established in Tbilisi, the main task of which was to facilitate the involvement of Georgian Jews in agricultural work. The Soviet government allocated thousands of square kilometres of land and large sums of money for Jewish collective farms. The idea of collective farms was not very popular among Georgian Jews, but as the result of the forced collectivization, by 1933 there were more than 2,000 Jews working in 15 collective farms around Georgia. The establishment of collective farms in Georgia began in 1927-1928 in Kakheti where the Jewish collective farm Tsiteli Gora was formed in 1928, and which was allocated 13 square kilometres of land. The land was located 5 kilometres away from the village of Ulyanovka in Lagodekhi. A local activist with a small group of supporters traveled all over Kakheti to look for people willing to join the collective farm. Finally, the collective farm was joined by Jews from different parts of Georgia. Those moving to the Tsiteli Gora collective farm were given a state subsidy for building houses that allowed them to move there with their families. In 1929, they were able to build 15 two-story dwellings housing 25 families. By 1930, there were already 40 households in the collective farm and by 1940 there were 82 households. There was also a school for the elimination of illiteracy, a kindergarten, and a medical point.
The Tsiteli Gora collective farm was the only Jewish collective farm that continued to function in Georgia after OZET was liquidated at the end of 1930’s. It was still active until the 1970’s when a wave of migration of Georgian Jews to Israel had begun. Most of Tsiteli Gora’s Jewish population had left for Israel by that point, and the collective farm was inhabited by Georgian newcomers from the west of the country. There was no officially registered synagogue in Tsiteli Gora and those who still remember Jewish life in Tsiteli Gora claim that the local Jews would go to the synagogue in Tbilisi. The Jewish cemetery in Tsiteli Gora was established simultaneous to the collective farm. The earliest gravestone in the cemetery is dated 1935 while the most recent is dated 2014. There were no burials in the cemetery between the mid-1970’s (when the local Jews left for Israel) and the grave from 2014.