This summer in August, a two-week international camp is being organised in Švenčionys. Our goal is to clean the old Jewish Švenčionys cemetery, remove trash, document gravestones and discover what we are able about Švenčionys Jewish history. We will be teaching our volunteers about Litvak culture, history and Jewish burial traditions in general.
The old Jewish Švenčionys cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish burial places in Lithuania, dating back to the 17th century. The cemetery covers approximately 39,670 sq. meters (47,445 square yards) with existing gravestones estimated to number in the thousands. The number was higher prior to the Holocaust when gravestones were stolen for use in local construction, including for the construction of a horse stable. Much of the remaining cemetery was desecrated. In 1993, the stables were taken apart and many stones returned to the cemetery, and a remembrance monument was built.
Many ornate gravestones survive from the period 1900- 1930, and their condition varies. Many, if not most, are in fragile condition and need urgent repair and restoration.
We do not have data defining dates for the cemetery, we hope to discover that during our work.
The camp is organised in partnership with: “Action Reconciliation Service for Peace” http://www.actionreconciliation.org/ and will be our second joint project in consecutive years. We expect between 10-15 youngsters will visit Lithuania from Germany and other countries, to volunteer in this effort. More information can be found on https://www.asf-ev.de/en/summer-camps/activities/lithuania.html