The Matzevah Foundation (TMF) has partnered with the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage (FODZ) to care for and restore the Jewish cemetery in Zambrów, Poland. Zambrów is located in northeast Poland about half-way between Warsaw and Białystok.
Members of the inaugural volunteer team made their way from their homes in various parts of the United States to Warsaw where they convened and traveled to Zambrów together. Work in the cemetery began on Monday, August 13 2012. The trip was very successful in Phase one of the project.
The Zambrów Jewish Cemetery Project will be carried out in three phases. Phase one included cleaning and clearing the cemetery grounds by removing trash and debris. TMF’s volunteer team worked with local high school teachers and students as well as a few inmates from a local penitentiary in order to clear the fence line of shrubs and collect broken fragments of matzevahs (headstones) to be used later in the building of a lapidarium. (A lapidarium is an archeological structure where stone fragments are joined together in a wall to become a memorial exhibit. )
On Tuesday, August 14, TMF, FODZ, Jewish and civic leaders unveiled a matzevah or memorial marker dedicated to the memory of the Jews of Zambrów. Many of them were executed by the Germans in 1941 while the survivors of the massacre were later murdered at Treblinka in the winter of 1942/43.
In July 2013 a second team returned to Zambrów and spent a week clearing the remaining one-quarter of the cemetery as well as providing upkeep to the overgrown areas cleared last year. Many matzevot were turned over and cleaned of dirt and debris to ready the cemetery to be cataloged this fall. The team also began preperations for the ultimate goal of building a wall at the front of the cemetery.
We are very excited as we look ahead to building the beautiful wall and gate at the front of the cemetery. This is a very expensive project, even with us doing much of the work. But we are committed to continuing the work God has led us to and honoring this burial place for hundred of Jewish people who now have no one left in Poland to care for their burial site.
The estimated cost for the entire Zambrów Jewish Cemetery Project will be roughly $250,000. TMF will continue working to raise funds and to mobilize teams of volunteers who will assist professional builders to complete the project. Volunteers will clean the cemetery, dig and prepare the foundation for the wall, walkways and lapidarium. Funds are also being collected to provide for annual cleaning of the cemetery grounds.