by Daniel Bloch
Every year just before Yom Tov, Jewish individuals and families visit various cemeteries around the Western Cape to pay their respects to their loved ones.
Whilst most of our family members may be buried at Pinelands cemetery, many of us also have family buried in places like Oudtshoorn, Paarl, Wellington, Robertson and other cemeteries situated within our country communities.
The Cape SAJBD works with our partners who include the active Jewish communities, municipalities and private contractors, to ensure that our Jewish cemeteries are cleaned and maintained throughout the year to ensure that when you visit your loved ones, you see that they are given the respect they deserve. And when cemeteries are vandalised and tombstones desecrated, we again work with our partners to ensure these are repaired.
Over the past year, the Board has visited almost all of our Jewish cemeteries around the Western Cape. What we have found is that in every case, they have been well maintained and looked after. Whilst some cemeteries are cleaned once a month, others may be cleaned every second or third month, depending on budget and resource limitations.
The Wellington cemetery which was vandalised in 2019, finally had its last tombstone laid flat earlier this year, bringing an end to a year-long project. In May this year, two gates were stolen from the Robertson cemetery. We are working on a project to ensure that the cemetery can be secured. Last month, the Oudtshoorn cemetery was vandalised with more than 30 tombstones desecrated. However, the Oudtshoorn community rallied and all the tombstones have now been repaired. The Board played a role in generating awareness for what had happened and with more than
10 000 views within a week, it ensured that people far and wide became aware of what had happened and provided their input and subsequent donations towards the restoration of the tombstones.
However, there is much work still to be done in Oudtshoorn in terms of upgrading the security. There are many cemeteries around the Western Cape which require the financial support from Jewish members all over the world. Beaufort West needs a wall repair, Worcester needs repair work done to tombstones, Piketberg needs further cleaning and Ladismith needs the Jewish grave sites segregated from the rest of the cemetery.
We all want to honour our loved ones, and the way we can do this is by ensuring that the Jewish cemeteries are well maintained. If you would like to assist with this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Published in the October 2022 Digital Edition – Click here to read it.
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