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IZBICA JEWISH CEMETERY COMMEMORATION PROJECT
The goal of the project is to restore the neglected Jewish cemetery in Izbica and to bring back its proper look. The project is coordinated by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland and supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and by Tvschoenfilm, a German documentary producing company.  

Until the end of 2006 the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage had finished the first stage of the project, during which the following results were achieved:
-
the matzevot, stolen during World War II and used to build a Gestapo prison in Izbica, were moved to the cemetery and secured;
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a monument commemorating the Jewish community of Izbica was erected at the cemetery;
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a pamphlet presenting the history of Izbica was published;
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a workshop on Jewish history and culture was organized for the students of the Izbica School Complex.

For nearly 200 years – since 1750 until 1942 – Izbica was inhabited almost exclusively by Jews. There were but a few comparable towns in Poland, where Jews accounted for at least 90% of the population.

World War II put an end to the history of Izbica Jews – nowadays the most important trace of their once flourishing community is the cemetery, which only a short time ago had been abandoned and devastated. To save it for the generations to come, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage launched the IZBICA JEWISH CEMETERY COMMEMORATION PROJECT, the goal of which is to restore the cemetery and to protect it from further devastation. An integral part of the project is to encourage the inhabitants of Izbica, above all the students of the Izbica School Complex, to take care of the cemetery.

During the World War II the Jewish cemetery in Izbica was desecrated, its fence was destroyed and the matzevot were used for constructing the Gestapo prison building. In September 2006, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage, along with Tvschoenfilm, demolished the former prison building. After the demolition works were completed, the matzevot were moved back to the cemetery: those that were best preserved were installed on the walls of an ohel of the famous Tzadik of Izbica, Mordechai Josef Leiner, the others were secured. In the future they will be built in the cemetery’s new fence. The works were filmed by Tvschoenfilm; they will be used in a documentary about Kurt Engels, the boss of Gestapo in Izbica and one of the war criminals involved in the Reinhardt Operation. The film will be aired by the German ARD Television.

In autumn 2006 the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany had joined forces with the Foundation to realize the IZBICA JEWISH CEMETERY COMMEMORATION PROJECT. The financial support of the Embassy allowed the Foundation to erect a monument commemorating the Jewish community of Izbica, publish pamphlets presenting the history of the town (in Polish and in English), organize educational activities for the students of the Izbica School Complex and, finally, to trace the geodesic boundaries of the cemetery and design a new fence.

On November 16th, 2006, a ceremony of unveiling of the monument commemorating the Jewish community of Izbica took place. The ceremony was attended by the Israeli Ambassador, Mr. David Peleg, the German Ambassador, Mr. Reinhard Schweppe, a representative of the President's Office, Ms. Malgorzata Zaluska, the Chief Rabbi of Galicia, Rabbi Edgar Gluck, a deputy bishop of the Lublin Archidiocese, bishop Mieczyslaw Cislo, representatives of the local authorities and the Izbica Mayor. The ceremony was also witnessed by a crowd of local citizens and children from the School Complex in Izbica.

The teachers and students of the School Complex in Izbica have been taking care of the Jewish cemetery in Izbica for many years, trying to discover the past of their town. In June 2003 the school, with help from Robert Kuwałek, Director of the Belzec Memorial Museum, started cooperating with the German organization Bildungswerk Stanislaw Hantz from Kassel. In September 2005 the School Complex in Izbica joined the educational program "To Bring Memory Back", launched by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage.

Within the framework of the „To Bring Memory Back” program the students take care of the Jewish cemetery, discover Jewish history and culture, and explore the history of the Jewish community of Izbica. They also undertake public activities leading to bring to the inhabitants of Izbica the memory of their past.

On December 19, 2006, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage organized for the students of the Izbica School Complex a workshop on Jewish culture and history, dedicated also to the educational program's method and the realization of public activities.We certainly hope that thanks to the workshop, led by experienced animators, young people of Izbica will manage to invite many other inhabitants of their town to join them in taking care of the cemetery and exploring the past of Izbica.

The final stage of the IZBICA JEWISH CEMETERY COMMEMORATION PROJECT will be fencing the cemetery. The cost of this undertaking is estimated for 50 000 €. The Foundation is now seeking partners who will help us to complete this task.
  A pamphlet presenting the history of Izbica: "Izbica. A Story of a Place"» back

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