Friday, September 29, 2006

 

The Old Cemetery

The Old Cemetery lies on the side of a hill between ul. Woziwodzka (Water Carrier Street) and ul. Rybaki (Fisherman Street), just three blocks from Stary Rynek (the Old Square), which is still the town center.

The Old Cemetery was used by the earliest Jews of Lomza. Eventually, Jews were not permitted to live within the town limits and expelled to the surrounding villages, during which time the Jews of the Lomza area buried their dead in Sniadowo. (Incidentally, the Jewish Cemetery of Sniadowo is completely devastated, and there is now a gravel mine on its site.) Once Jews were allowed to live in Lomza again, in 1822, they reestablished the Old Cemetery. It was expanded at least once, around 1858, and used until it was deemed full in 1892, at which time the New Cemetery was opened.

The Old Cemetery today bears little resemblance to its former appearance. All of the stones are evenly spaced in neat rows on even, well manicured ground. As recently as the 1950's, the terrain undulated and the hillside was far from smooth. Moreover, while almost all of the gravestones are erect, some are upside-down, some are turned around, and at least one is sideways (i.e., one side is buried), so they must have been removed and reinstalled. Stones for men and women are mixed, unlike the strict separation seen at the New Cemetery. Also, in 60 years, there must have been thousands of people buried there, yet there are only about 200 stones.

I am going to post the photos of the Old Cemetery as they were given to me by the photographer, Antoni Dudo. He photographed them in three groups, and I will be using his group numbers and the numbers of the photos within the groups. I do not know of any survey of the Old Cemetery, and the stones are more difficult to read than those in the New Cemetery, so it is going to be difficult for me to keep track of them. As a result, there may be duplicates. As we obtain better photos and as they are translated, I will be able to eliminate the extra copies.

The two photos below were taken in the Old Cemetery, apparently in 1953 or 1954. Again, it looks very different today, and it probably looked even more different when it was closed in 1892.




Comments:
Thanks for this invaluable resource and tribute to our families.
 
Thank you for this rich and touching tribute to our families. My father's family was from Lomza/Nowogrod/Ostralenka/Sulki..
and I know that some are buried in the Old Cemetery. I was there in 2002..and it would have been a monumental task to record names at that time, alone! The new cemetery is also "home" to some of my family. You've done a good deed.
 
You have done a great mitzva. The Jewish community of Lomza was one of the holiest in europe, filled with Torah loving Palisher Litvaks. Zy Gezunt.
 
I have been to this place and was utterly dismayed at the lack of knowledge by the locals of even the very existence of the cemetery
 
I visited this cemetery in recent years. I think in 1953 (when your pictures were taken) there was much more gravestones than now.
Krzysztof
http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/ - Jewish cemeteries in Poland
 
Thank you for taking the time to put this together. It is an invaluable resource and has means a great deal to many, I am sure.
 
Many thanks for this. My family is also from Lomza/Nowogrod/Ostralenka and seeing these graves is very special.
 
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