Lithuania is often referred to as the cradle of Eastern European Jewish culture where a large vibrant Jewish community once flourished. This community’s rich cultural and religious traditions were eliminated during the Holocaust. According to various estimates, in pre-war Lithuania there were between 200-240 Jewish cemeteries. Today, the majority of them are forgotten and neglected. New buildings were built on top of, or next to, some old cemetery sites, and gravestones have often been used as construction materials. Time ruthlessly ravages old graves. These sites often become the target of attacks by vandals. Because of lack of funds and initiative, old Jewish cemeteries are quickly disappearing and the memories of Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) who are buried there will disappear as well.
A Jewish cemetery in Lithuania is not simply a burial place. It is part of Lithuanian history and culture.
’MACEVA’ is a non-profit organization, which aims to preserve signs of old Jewish cemeteries, for the future generations in Lithuania and the diaspora.
Goals of MACEVA are:
- Collect, catalogue and publicize information about all the pre-WWII Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. Document through photographs all remaining tombstones in all Jewish cemeteries throughout Lithuania;
- Translate all legible inscriptions from the gravestones and post this information on our website, so that everybody can get a list of cemeteries or a burial list;
- Whenever possible restore/reconstruct, or at least clean cemeteries, with the assistance of and in cooperation with local municipalities;
- Raise awareness among local communities about the Jews who used to live in the neighbourhood and seek their support to look after Jewish cemeteries.
Living people deserve as much respect as they show not to only to those alive, but dead too. Memory can not be nameless.
Realizing MACEVA’s goals depends not only on us, but also on you!
Therefore, we welcome everybody’s support - individuals, businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations.