Jewish cemetery in Ternopil

Benjamin Belenky
2 min readDec 24, 2021

--— online burials catalog.

Ternopil is the regional center of Ukraine, where Jews have settled since the 16th century. In the 19th century, they accounted for up to 50% of the local population.There are two Jewish cemeteries in Ternopil (in Poland and Galicia — kirikut) — “Stare Okopisko”, dating back to the 16th century and found in the development zone and “Nové Okopisko”. There are several mass graves of Jews from the Second World War within the city.The Jewish community of the city not far from the Christian Mikulinetsky cemetery founded the Jewish cemetery called «Nove Okopisko» in 1840. Already in the 1860s, it was put on the cadastral map of the city and the military survey map of Austria-Hungary. Nowadays it is a monument of history of local importance under number 1692.According to the American Commission for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage Abroad, no other cities or villages have used the cemetery for burial. The cemetery is surrounded by a fence. About 25% of the gravestones are overturned and out of place.The earliest surviving burials date from the beginning of the 20th century. The Commission assessed as a serious problem of uncontrolled access and overgrowth of plants. Vandalism was identified as a moderate problem in the report.The cemetery was destroyed during the Second World War. Then, in Soviet times, according to eyewitnesses, the graveyard slabs were used to build a road and a military airfield near Podvolochisskoe highway.In the early 1990s, volunteers cleaned up the cemetery.Matzevahs in the cemetery are made of limestone and sandstone of various colors common in the region. The inscriptions and epitaphs are in Hebrew, German and Polish.Matzevahs with inscriptions in Hebrew, according to research by local historians, indicate the dates of death and the number of years lived. Matzevahs with inscriptions in German and Polish, according to secular tradition, indicate the dates of birth and death.Epitaphs usually contain the formula: • is buried here,• enumeration of virtues,• the name of the deceased and the name of the father,• date of death.In some cases, the epitaph indicates the occupation of the deceased.In addition to the epitaphs, the matzevahs at the Ternopil cemetery are interesting for their images. The most common is the image of the Star of David — the national symbol.Other common symbols are:· • Candlestick with paired or unpaired number of candles, depicted on women’s graves.· • Menorah.· • Jug — symbolizing the belonging of the deceased to the tribe of the Levites.· • Broken tree, indicating that the deceased was unmarried.

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