Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Israel Stars In Top 10 List, And It's Just A Little Morbid (its a top cemetery list) with the largest cemetery in Europe the Warsaw Cemetery

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

Although out of order from the pictures on my trip, since I was doing a story on Jewish cemeteries, it seemed it appropriate to put in a story about the European largest Jewish cemetery--In Warsaw. And why not? There were 3 million Jews in Warsaw before the war. Much more than in New York. There was no state of Israel yet. The existence of the Jewish people for over 500 years was primarily in Poland. More about this in the next few weeks as I put in pictures about Warsaw and Krakow.


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Largest Jewish cemetery in the world. The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, including the Silwan necropolis, is the most ancient and most important Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem.

The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, including the Silwan necropolis, is the most ancient and most important Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem. Burial on the Mount of Olives started some 3,000 years ago in the days of the First Temple, and continues to this day.[1] The cemetery contains anywhere between 70,000 and 150,000 tombs from various periods, including the tombs of famous figures in Jewish history.



In the 19th century special significance was attached to Jewish cemeteries in Jerusalem, since they were the last meeting place not only of Jerusalemites but also of Jews from all over the world. Over the years, many Jews in their old age came to Jerusalem in order to live out the rest of their lives there and to be buried in its holy soil.[2] The desire to be buried on the Mount of Olives stemmed in part from the Segulaic advantages attributed to the burial, according to various sources.

During the First and Second Temple Periods the Jews of Jerusalem were buried in burial caves scattered on the slopes of the Mount, and from the 16th century the cemetery began to take its present shape.[1]

The old Jewish cemetery sprawled over the slopes of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Kidron Valley (Valley of Jehoshaphat), radiating out from the lower, ancient part, which preserved Jewish graves from the Second Temple period; here there had been a tradition of burial uninterrupted for thousands of years. The cemetery was quite close to the Old City, its chief merit being that it lay just across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount: according to the midrash[3], it is here that the Resurrection of the Dead would begin[2] once Messiah will appear on the Mount of Olives and head toward the Temple Mount. As the sages say: "In the days to come, the righteous will appear and rise in Jerusalem, as it is said, "And they will sprout out of the city like the grass of the field" - and there is no city but Jerusalem".[4]

Rule of Jordan

During the Jordanian rule, the Jewish cemetery suffered systematic damage to gravestones and tombs. As early as the end of 1949, Israeli viewers stationed on Mount Zion reported that Arab residents began uprooting tombstones. In 1954, the Israeli government filed a formal complaint with the UN General Assembly regarding the further destruction of graves and plowing in the area. In the late 1950s, the Jordanian army used tombstones to build military camps. Dozens of tombstones were completely transferred to the tomb camp, a military camp established in nearby al-Eizariya, where they used to floor tents and toilets.[5]

The Hotel Inter-Continental Jerusalem ("Seven Arches") was built on top of the Mount of Olives, and the access road to it was paved on graves, while the tombstones were shredded to gravel for use as raw material. When the Jordanians extended the road to Jericho, they demolished six rows of graves and threw the bones with the ground towards the lower Sephardic section. Even after sorting out some of the bones, a large pile of earth remained.[6] In addition, ancient tombstones that stood around the tomb of Zechariah were removed from the area of the tomb in order to expand the access road to the village of Silwan. In his book 'Against the Closed Wall', Meron Benvenisti writes that tombstones were also transferred to the courtyard of the Citadel of David, where they were smashed and fragments of which were used as markers for the parade ground.[7]

The cemetery today

As early as 1968, the Arabs began stoning the mourners on their way to the cemetery, through the Arab village. In 1992, with the burial of Prime Minister Menachem Begin on the Mount of Olives, it was decided to establish a dedicated security company for the cemetery, and to increase the protection of visitors to the site. In 2005, acts of harassment against Jews intensified, and it was decided to set up a guard unit for personal or group escort to those who came to the cemetery. In 2009, cars were attacked and many visitors were injured on the way to the cemetery. The "Jerusalem for generations" association turned to public figures, followed by a debate in the Knesset.[8] In 2011, the chairman of the Almagor organization (terror victims association) was attacked and injured on his way to the graves of his Holocaust survivor parents. As a result, an attempt was made to increase public awareness of this attack and to mobilize the authorities and voluntary organizations against it.[9] As of 2010, the security and personal escort service is free of charge, financed by the Ministry of Housing.[10] Till today burial plots and tombs remain in a state of neglect. The plots of the graves suffer from vandalism, including the desecration of gravestones[11] and the destruction of graves.[12] A series of government decisions to rehabilitate parts of the mountain, as well as funds allocated for maintenance and renovation, have not yet succeeded in changing the sad situation.

Notable graves

Many famous names are buried in the cemetery such as Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, known as the Ohr ha-Chaim, and Rabbi Yehuda Alcalay who were among the heralds of Zionism; Hasidic rebbes of various dynasties and Rabbis of "Yishuv haYashan" (the old – pre-Zionist - Jewish settlement) together with Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, and his circle; Henrietta Szold, the founder of the Hadassah organization; the poet Else Lasker-Schüler, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of Modern Hebrew, Shmuel Yosef Agnon, the Nobel Laureate for Literature, and Boris Schatz, the founder of the Bezalel School of Art; Israel's sixth Prime Minister Menachem Begin; the victims of the 1929 Arab riots and 1936–39 Arab revolt, the fallen from the 1948 War of Independence, together with Jews of many generations in their diversity.[1]


Rabbis and religious scholars


Hasidic Rebbes

Chief Rabbis


Cultural figures

Political figures

Terror victims


Four thoughts from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin



Israel Stars In Top 10 List, And It's Just A Little Morbid (its a top cemetery list). This story and its author didn't even mention the Mount of Olives--the most important Cemetary

 Zev Stub    

It's not uncommon to find Israel starring in "Top 10" lists. You know, like "Top 10 places with amazing food" or "Top 10 incredible high-tech hubs." But recently it featured in a list that really is just to die for.

A blog post on the BillionGraves website put together a list of the top 10 cemeteries that any graveyard aficionados must visit before they die. And guess what: Israel did not go unnoticed.

Coming in at a rather modest No. 10, the Har Hamenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem was described in some detail by the blogger, who explained what traditional Jewish cemeteries look like and was particularly taken with the custom of laying stones on top of graves.

"It is traditional for Jewish visitors to place a rock on the grave of a loved one each time they visit the gravesite. While some stones are placed in a pile, others are elaborately arranged to create pictures," the post noted.
BillionGraves is a website and app that helps people locate the graves of ancestors. Users snap photographs of headstones and record their GPS location before uploading the information to the website, where they transcribe the information for others to search.

Other lucky cemeteries included on the list are the seaside Waverley Cemetery in New South Wales, Australia; the colorful Cimitirul Vesel in Sapanta, Romania; and the underwater Neptune Memorial Reef, situated off Key Biscayne, Florida.

Not to sound ungrateful, but while Har Hamenuchot Cemetery is definitely one of Israel's largest and best-known gravesites, it's not its most interesting one.

Should a follow-up list be composed, we suggest considering instead the Trumpeldor Cemetery in the heart of Tel Aviv, the final resting place of many of the country's great poets and politicians, or the serene Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim Cemetery, where some of the fighters in Israel's War of Independence are buried.

The Shining Sea Of Galilee By Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

The Bible (e.g., Numbers 34:11, Joshua 12:3) says a body of water called the Kinneret runs along the Promised Land's eastern border.

The Targumim translate "Kinneret" into Aramaic as "Ginosar"; Josephus (War of the Jews, book III, ch. 10) calls it the Lake of Genezareth (an Anglicization of the Greek version of Ginosar); and the Talmud refers to it as Yam Shel Tiveria or Yamah Shel Tiveria – "The Sea of Tiberias" (e.g., Shabbos 87, Bava Kamma 81, Bechoros 55a, Jerusalem Talmud Shekalim 6:2).


Why does this lake have three different names? And what is its primary name?

The answer to this question has halachic ramifications. A get must include the name of the city in which it is written plus the name of the closest body of water (so that the location is crystal clear). Accordingly, a sofer writing a get in Tiberias must mention the Kinneret. But which name should he use? Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575) and Rabbi Moshe ben Yosef of Trani (1505-1585) hotly debated this question.

According to a popular theory, the pear-shaped Kinneret gets its name from its resemblance to a kinnor (a musical instrument). There is no real source for this assertion, however.

It's possible that this body of water actually does not have its own name and is identified instead by the most prominent city on its banks. The Bible mentions a fortified city, Kinneret, in the tribal territory of Naftali that was captured in the time of Yehoshua (Joshua 19:35). The name of this city also appears in various ancient inscriptions. Thus, the Bible refers to the nearby body of water as "the Sea of Kinneret" because Kinneret was the most prominent nearby city at the time.

In later times, Kinneret was called Ginosar. The Talmud (Megillah 6a) explicitly states that the Biblical city of Kinneret is the same city as Ginosar. It explains that Ginosar was called Kinneret because "its fruits are as sweet as the voice of a kinnor." Rabbi Nosson of Rome(1035-1106) defines kinnor as either a type of berry (which Jastrowidentifies it as a "thorn jujube" – see also Rashi to Bava Basra 48b) or a musical instrument ("harp" or "lyre").

The Talmud (Berachos 44a) speaks about the fruits of Ginosar in the most superlative of terms, and the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah§98:17) exegetically breaks up "Ginosar" into "ganei sarim" (gardens of officers) as the land in Ginosar was especially fertile and valued for its fruits.

Thus, we see that by the Second Temple period, Kinneret had come to be known as Ginosar, but was still a highly prominent city. The nearby body of water therefore came to be known as "the Sea of Ginosar," and that is the term used for it in works from that era (such as the Targumim and Josephus' writings).

Another city nearby is Tiberias, so when that city rose in prominence, it became the sea's namesake. Thus, the Talmud refers to the Kinneret as "the Sea of Tiberias." By that time, Tiberias had surpassed Kinneret/Ginosar as the most prominent city in the area. Hence also the body of water's name in Arabic: Buhairet Tabariyya, which means "Sea of Tiberias."

According to Josephus (Antiquities of the Jewsbook XVIII, ch. 8), Herod established the city of Tiberias and named it in honor of the Roman emperor Tiberius (42 BCE-37 CE). The Talmud (Megillah 5b-6a) identifies Tiberias with one of two cities mentioned in the Bible: Chamat or Rakat (Joshua 19:35). The Talmud explains that Chamat (literally, "hot") refers to the natural hot springs found in Tiberias while Rakat (literally, "empty") alludes to the fact that even the "empty" (i.e., ignorant) inhabitants of that city were still full of mitzvot like a pomegranate is full of seeds.

The Talmud also offers two explanations for the name Tiberias: 1) the city sits at the tabur ("navel" or "belly button") of the Land of Israel (in terms of its importance); 2) the name is a portmanteau of "tovah reiyatah(its sight is good). Tosafos explains that it is aesthetically beautiful with its luscious gardens and orchards.

The Christian Bible commonly calls the Kinneret "the Sea of Galilee," the name by which the lake is more commonly known to English speakers. Galilee, of course, was the administrative name of the entire northern region of the Holy Land in Hasmonean and Herodian times. So again, the sea was named after its geographical surroundings.

I Guess I'm NOT As SMART As I Thought | Huckabee

Although former Governor Huckabee is not a comdeian,

this light hearted presentation has lots of truths within.     


Polish fund to restore Europe's largest Jewish cemetery

The cemetery dates back to 1806 and spans 33.5 hectares

Warsaw (AFP)

Poland on Friday launched a multi-million euro investment fund to pay for the restoration of Europe's largest Jewish cemetery located in Warsaw and largely neglected since the Holocaust.

Culture Minister Piotr Glinski said that profits generated from the fund valued at 24 million euros ($28 million) would ensure maintenance of the site that bears witness to Warsaw's lost Jewish community.

The cemetery dates back to 1806 and spans 33.5 hectares (83 acres). It is is the final resting place for about 250,000 people, mostly Warsaw elites, according to its director Przemyslaw Szpilman.

In 1939, Jews made up more than 30 percent of the population of the Polish capital and numbered 3.5 million in Poland as a whole, or 10 percent of the national population.

Only 200,000 to 300,000 of them survived the Holocaust masterminded by Nazi Germany.

After the war, most Jewish survivors emigrated, with the last wave of departures taking place after an anti-Semitic campaign organised by the communist regime in 1968.

"This project creates an unparalleled opportunity to deepen and spread knowledge about the heritage of the Jews of Poland, and to strengthen the Polish-Jewish dialogue," Anna Chipczynska, president of Warsaw's Jewish community.

Invested through banks or in secured bonds, the permanent fund will generate a profit of around 600,000 euros per year, culture minister Glinski said.

Largely abandoned since the end of the Second World War, the cemetery is mostly overgrown but there are still some 20 burials each year.

Notable internees in the Warsaw Cemetery

Notable interments
A monument (Cenotaph) dedicated to Janusz Korczak

Solomon Anski, writer (Solomon Zangwill Rappaport), author of "The Dybbuk"
Szymon Askenazy, archaeologist
Meir Balaban
Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, Rosh yeshiva of the Volozhin Yeshiva and author of several major Jewish works
Mathias Bersohn, philanthropist
Adam Czerniakow, head of the Judenrat in the Warsaw Ghetto
Szymon Datner, historian
Jacob Dinezon (1852–1919), writer
Marek Edelman
Maksymilian Fajans, artist, lithographer and photographer
Maurycy Fajans, founder of the first steamboat line on the Vistula
Alexander Flamberg, chess master
Edward Flatau, neurologist
Uri Nissan Gnessin, writer
Samuel Goldflam, neurologist
Ester Rachel Kamińska (1870–1925), the "mother of Yiddish Theater", mother of Ida Kamińska
Michał Klepfisz
Janusz Korczak
Izaak Kramsztyk, rabbi and lawyer
Aleksander Lesser, painter and art critic
Szlomo Zalman Lipszyc, first Chief Rabbi of Warsaw
Dow Ber Meisels, rabbi of Kraków and Warsaw
Samuel Orgelbrand, publisher of the Universal Encyclopaedia
Isaac Loeb Peretz (1852–1915) one of the most important Yiddish language writers of the 19th-20th centuries
Samuel Abraham Poznański
Józef Różański, communist activist
Józef Sandel, art historian and critic
Hayyim Selig Slonimski, Hebrew publisher, astronomer, inventor and science author
Chaim Soloveitchik, founder of the Brisk rabbinic dynasty & the "brisker method" of Talmudic study
Julian Stryjkowski, (born Pesach Stark) 1905-1996, writer, author of "Austeria" "Voices in Darkness"
Hipolit Wawelberg, founder of Warsaw Technical College,
Szymon Winawer, chess player
Lucjan Wolanowski
Ludwik Zamenhof, doctor and inventor of Esperanto.

1 History
2 Notable interments
3 See also
4 References
5 External links

Jewish graves in Warsaw

In 1806 Warsaw's Jewish Commune petitioned the government to establish a new cemetery for Jewish inhabitants of Warsaw. The Bródno Jewish Cemetery, in existence since 1769, was nearly at capacity and the chevra kadisha sought a new burial ground.[2] The lot chosen was located right outside of the city limits in the borough of Wola, next to a new Catholic Powązki Cemetery established in 1790. The petition was accepted and in the following year the cemetery was established. The earliest headstone was dated December 6, 1806 and belonged to certain Nachum son of Nachum of Siemiatycze, but it did not survive to our times. The first woman interred there was certain Elka Junghoff, daughter of Jehuda Leib Mulrat of Kalisz. Her tombstone is dated November 26, 1804, but the date is most likely wrong. Hence the oldest surviving headstone belongs to Sara, daughter of Eliezer (died September 8, 1807).[3]

Unlike other cemeteries in Europe, all the graves in the Okopowa Street cemetery have their backs to the cemetery gate. The tradition of placing graves facing the cemetery gate stems from the belief that at the future resurrection of the dead, the dead will rise up and be able to leave the cemetery without having to turn around.[2] However, in 1819, when one community member was accidentally buried with his head, rather than his feet, facing the cemetery gate, Rabbi Szlomo Zalman Lipszyc, the first Chief Rabbi of Warsaw, ruled that all future burials should be done the same way, to avoid causing embarrassment to the first one buried in this manner.[2]
Monumental grave of Wilhelm and Ewa Landau

During the first decades of its existence the new Okopowa Street cemetery was used mostly by the higher strata of Jewish society, with poorer Jews interred in the Bródno Jewish Cemetery in the easternmost borough of Bródno, on the right bank of the Vistula. Despite that the cemetery quickly became overcrowded and already in 1824 it had to be expanded. Around that time the Tsarist authorities took over the administration of the cemetery from the chevra kadisha and by 1850 established a separate funeral administration. The first on-site funeral home was established in 1828, but already in 1831 it was destroyed by Russian Army in the course of the November Uprising. A new building was erected the following year and further expanded in 1854. In the meantime the necropolis was extended twice: in 1840 and 1848. Around that time it became the main Jewish cemetery of Warsaw, for rich and poor alike.

Historically the cemetery was separated from the city centre and the quarter inhabited by Jews by a deep ditch, the so-called Lubomirski Ramparts, created in 1777 to stop the spread of plague and as a tax measure. It was not until 1873 that both Jewish and Catholic communities were allowed to build a bridge across the ditch to facilitate access to both cemeteries. In 1860 and 1863 the cemetery was extended again and in 1869 reached its present form. However, it began to overcrowd and in 1885 all burials financed by the Jewish community (i.e. of the poor) were directed to the Bródno Jewish Cemetery. In 1877 several notable Jewish families of Warsaw financed a new late Neo-Classical building by Adolf Schimmelpfennig housing a synagogue and two burial houses (one for men and one for women). The second floor was reserved for rabbi's flat.
Less elaborate tombstones

As the cemetery was used by all groups of Warsaw's Jewry, conflicts arose over control of the cemetery and various burial-related issues. In 1913 it was agreed to split it onto four parts: one for Orthodox Jews, one for Reform Jews, one for children, and one for military and state burials. After World War I the cemetery again became overcrowded. Subsequently, a mound or earthwork terrace was erected over the quarter previously reserved for children to allow for more burials. Between 1918 and 1936 fourteen such mounds were created. In the 1930s the entire cemetery was surrounded with a high wall, and in 1939 construction started on a Mausoleum of Jews Fighting for Polish Independence. Works were stopped by the outbreak of World War II and the German occupation of Poland.

During World War II the cemetery was partly demolished. German forces used it for mass executions and the burial of victims of Warsaw Ghetto, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, and other mass murders. Those burials included both Jews and non-Jews. Following the Ghetto Uprising, on May 15, 1943 the Germans detonated all buildings in the area of the cemetery, including the synagogue and burial houses. Only a small well survives to this day. Further damage was done to the cemetery during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, when the front line passed directly through the cemetery. After the war the cemetery was reopened. The Communist authorities of Poland planned a road directly through the middle of the cemetery, but the plans were never carried out.

In the 1990s the neglected cemetery started to be renovated for the first time since the 1930s, mostly by the re-created Warsaw Jewish Commune and the Nissenbaum Family Foundation, as well as the City of Warsaw municipal government. The cemetery is still open, with 20 to 30 new burials every year.

See you tomorrow with more stories

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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