Center for Latino Jewish Relations Funds Zenica’s Jewish Cemetery in Israel
A note from the project leader, Irfan Kulović, below:
We are please to share the progress made in Zenica’s Jewish Cemetery. I’m attaching 2 groups of photos, one being “before” and the other “after” cleaning. The plan was significantly delayed because this year the rain season was longer than usual. Last two weeks have been better so the members of the Jewish community started working right away. The cemetery was not maintained for decades now and as they reported, the cleaning process was more difficult than expected. Some of the tombstones were completely covered by dense grass and bushes that grew over them. As you can see in the photos several tombstones even had trees growing out of them, so the task was tougher than just grass-cutting. You can see photos of Josip (president of the community) and Kenan (member of the community) working diligently to get this taken care of.
This was only the first phase, where they cleared up the central part of the cemetery and actually made the tombstones visible. The second phase will be painting and fixing up the broken parts of the fence and cleaning the edges of the cemetery where a significant number of dense bushes grew out. This will be of vital importance because with this kind of vegetation, there is a serious risk of snakes roaming around which the neighbors of the cemetery have already reported throughout the years. They will continue cleaning the area and cutting grass as long as they have the means, and it will be much easier after the major cleanup is finished.
Lastly, I was really happy to see their enthusiasm and joy throughout this process. This is a small community which mostly felt alone and forgotten, and now they are revitalizing a monumental space that speaks volumes about their history and legacy in Zenica and its surroundings. Religious groups in Bosnia do not receive financing from the government, so in their circumstances it’s hard to be self-sufficient and to organize activities like this. I truly hope that in the future we will be able to help them revitalize and equip the Synagogue as their community center which would certainly help them become more active and financially self-sufficient. This would be following the example of Sarajevo’s Jewish community which has several streams of income from buildings they repurposed and now rent out for various events and tourist activity.