Senaki Jewish Cemetery (Jewish section in Menji Municipal Cemetery)
Senaki is a town in Western Georgia. Its history dates back to the 17th century. After the construction of the Poti-Tbilisi railway in 1871 which connected the Black Sea port city of Poti with Georgia’s capital, Senaki developed as an important centre. The construction of a station in the town led to the development of an urban settlement originally called “new Senaki” (Akhalsenaki) which was granted the status of a city in 1921. In 1933, the city was renamed Tskhakaia in honor of the Georgian Soviet revolutionary leader Mikheil Tskhakaia. In 1989, the city returned to its old name of “Senaki.”
According to Georgian historian Zakaria Chichinadze, a small number of Jews lived in Senaki at the beginning of the 20th century and were involved in trade. 40 Jews lived in the town in 1910, 118 in 1926, and about 400 by 1939. By 1976, the number of Jews in Senaki had grown to 741. Mainly Jews from Bandza, Kulashi, Vani, and Sujuna settled in Senaki in the 20th century. By the 1970’s, Senaki became a powerful centre for Jewish life in Western Georgia.
While the history of the Jewish cemetery in Senaki requires more research, according to the National Historical Archives of Georgia, Senaki’s stone synagogue was built in 1880. Tombstones visible in the cemetery suggest that it was mostly in use in the second half of the 20th century until 2003. Some of the tombstones are barely legible and could originate from an earlier period.