Międzyrzec Podlaski Old Jewish Cemetery
Międzyszec Podlaski was founded under the Magdeburg Law as a private town around 1434–1438. The location of the Jewish community buildings (a synagogue and bet ha-midrash) near the southern corner of the market square proves that Jews had rights to manage this area in the early days of the town’s formation. The earliest information about the Jewish inhabitants dates to 1533. An organised Jewish community already existed at this point, although the number of its members remains unknown. In 1622, 152 Jews lived in Międzyrzec Podlaski (18% of the total population). The Jewish community reached its peak in the mid-19th century (in 1862, 80.7% of the total population). At the end of the interwar period, about 15,000 Jews (84%) were among the 18,000 inhabitants of the town. In terms of crafts and trade, the Jews of Międzyrzec were involved in the production of brushes as early as the 18th century. Apart from many traditional aid institutions, there was a professional hospital (from about 1850) and a fire brigade (from 1904). In the interwar period, the local Jews published their magazines.
The earliest reference to the old cemetery dates to 1605, but it was most likely established in the first half of the 16th century. It functioned until 1810 when a new cemetery was established. It was located approximately 400 metres to the north-east of the market square, by the road towards Brześć (currently, it is located at the intersection of Brzeska and Zarówie Streets). There are no further details regarding the spatial development and internal organization of the cemetery. It was fenced with a brick wall. There were two brick buildings (of unknown function) on the cemetery grounds. The area was covered with old trees. The cemetery was destroyed at the end of 1939. Germans established a selection site for forced labour on the site. Shortly after the war, clay and sand were mined in the area.
In 1946, the authorities built over the area of the cemetery. It has been gradually developed with single-family houses and service facilities. Currently, there are no traces of the cemetery. In 1946, 30 matzevot from the old cemetery were found among the tombstones recovered from the city and the surrounding area. Most of them were embedded in the south-west part of the wall fencing the new cemetery. The inscribed matzevot found are dated from 1709-1809 and are made of granite erratic boulders.