Known in Hebrew as "house of eternity," the land of the cemetery is considered holy and a special consecration ceremony takes place on its inauguration. Establishing a cemetery is one of the first priorities for a new Jewish community. A Jewish cemetery is generally purchased and supported with communal funds.
Early Jewish cemeteries were located outside of the city. In the Diaspora, it is traditional to bury the dead with the feet in the direction of Jerusalem. The tombstones usually have inscriptions in Hebrew and the regional language. During the Nazi Germany regime, Jewish cemeteries all over Europe were destroyed and desecrated.
The largest Jewish cemeteries of Europe can be found in Budapest, Łódź, Prague, Warsaw, Vienna and Berlin. Other Jewish cemeteries in Europe include the Jewish Cemetery in Khotyn and the Chatam Sofer Memorial (part of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Bratislava).
Jewish Cemetery of Aquincum (Old Buda), Budapest, Hungary
The cemetery was opened by the Jewish community in 1922. The opening speech was held by Ignác Schreiber, a young rabbi, who died only 3 days later, becoming the first person to be buried there. Later the ashes of Mózes Müncz, Gyula Wellesz and Gyula Klein, Chief Rabbis of Aquincum were brought here. The tomb of Mózes Müncz is a significant place of pilgrimage.
In the cemetery, there can be found the tombs of the Maros Street Hospital’s 149 victims, who were murdered by the members of the Hungarian arrow cross army, patients, doctors and nurses alike. Furthermore, here lie some of the renowned artists and scientifists, for instance the victim of fascism, writer, Endre Andor Gelléri, and the internationally famous psychologist, Ferenc Mérei.
In the United States, the Coming Street Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina, Mikveh Israel Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hebrew Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, B' Nai Israel Cemetery in Ashland, Wisconsin, and the Old Jewish Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, are some of the country's oldest Jewish cemeteries.
The mission of the International Jewish Cemetery Project is to document every Jewish burial site in the world.
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