The "Czernowitz Jewish Cemetery
Restoration Organization" (CJCRO)
The Czernowitz/Chernivtsi Jewish cemetery on Zelena street was
established in 1866. It is a very large cemetery, 11.6 hectares, or
about 30 acres and contains about 50 000 graves. It is currently
the only Jewish cemetery in the city, since an older cemetery was
destroyed and built over during the Soviet period.
In 1997, the Chernivtsi City Council designated the Jewish Cemetery
on Zelena Street as a historical-cultural heritage site. This
affords the cemetery a certain degree of protection and puts it under
the management of the city¹s cemetery administration, but the city
had limited resources with which to care for the cemetery and because
most herbicides had not been approved for use in the cemetery until
the cemetery became progressively more and more overgrown with
invasive trees, bushes, vines and annual weeds.
The dense invasive vegetation, made the cemetery impassable, the
of trees lifted gravestones and displaced them, branches of old
broke and fell on the graves, often breaking the tombstones. Vines
over the gravestones damaging their surface and new sapling trees
sprouted by the thousands between the graves and on the paths.
Former inhabitants of the city, and their descendants, who occasionally
visited the graves of their ancestors and relatives, were shocked and
dismayed at the condition of the cemetery. Over the last few years many
members of the 'Czernowitz-List,' started discussing means and ways to
restore the cemetery. These discussions did not result in any work being
done to clear the cemetery of its weedy vegetation until in 2007, a
of the Czernowitz - List, suggested that we apply to some NGO
which might send volunteers to clear the cemetery of its weedy
Upon this advice, we applied to a number of organizations and as a
Of these applications, SVIT Ukraine, in the summer of 2008, sent a
Of 12 - 14 volunteers to Chernivtsi, to work at the cemetery. The
came from all over the world, they were enthusiastic young people and
convinced a number of local young people to join them in their work.
The city administration participated in this effort, by paying for two
with chain-saws to help the volunteers.
In the summer of 2009, SVIT Ukraine again held a work-camp to clear
the Jewish cemetery of weedy vegetation and another organization,
this one named "Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste" from Germany,
also held a work-camp in Czernowitz/Chernivtsi.
At the end of the three work-camps; one in 2008 and two in 2009,
the tremendous good will of the volunteers, it became evident,
cemetery could not be cleared completely through the efforts of
At that point, a number of former ³Czernowitzers² decided on
to see if the cemetery could be cleared by hired workers who would be
by the descendants and relatives of those interred in the
Arrangements were made with Dr. Josif Bursuk, a long time resident of
city, to hire workers to clear one hectare of the cemetery and to
their work, for which we would pay them $2000. The necessary funds
contributed by a number of members of the Cz.-List.
The success or failure of the pilot project, would decide whether
the whole cemetery in the same manner was advisable.
The pilot project worked well, one hectare was cleared and the city,
had in the meantime received permission from the Ukrainian government
to use herbicides, had the cleared hectare sprayed with herbicides.
Consequently, in Sept. 2009, the organization called "Czernowitz Jewish
Cemetery Restoration organization" or CJCRO, was formed with the
express and only purpose to restore the Jewish cemetery of Czernowitz.
CJCRO is incorporated in the state of Florida and will hopefully be
"not for profit" status in 2011.
To see photographs of what CJCRO has managed to do at the cemetery,
please access :
Other photographs of the Czernowitz/Chernivtsi Jewish cemetery can be
Viewed at http://picasaweb.google.com/MReiferTaylor