This Year’s Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery Clean-Up is Done!

June 14, 2019
Words: Alon Goldman Photos: Asia Sidorowicz

On an almost annual basis, Alon Goldman, Vice-President of the World Society of Częstochowa Jews & Their Descendants and Chairman of the Association of Częstochowa Jews is Israel, has organised and led a clean-up of the Częstochowa Jewish cemetery. Over time, Alon has been joined by volunteers from various organisations, both adults and young people in this holy work.

At work’s end, Alon Goldman said:

Thank you very much my dear friend from the Matzevah Foundation, the Chairman, Pastor Steven D. Reece and Poland Operations Manager Przemek Panasiuk, without whom we could not have executed and managed the project. Thank you also to your volunteers Rachael Romero from Miami and Yolanda Czyżewski-Bragues from Hamilton, Ontario, I’m sure that you, too, will keep these moments in the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery in your hearts.

I would also like to thank a few more dear people – the Director of the Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam of Czestochowa, Elżbieta Ferenc for her logistical support and assistance, Krzysztof Straus, who is always ready to assist in any mission, Ryszard Welgryn and his children who, behind the scenes, quietly take care of us from the moment we arrive in Częstochowa, Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska, Chair of the Częstochowa TSKŻ and City Councillor Jolanta Urbańska, for her work and for the work of the volunteers she organised. Finally, thank you to the Częstochowa City Council for its assistance, especially to department managers Aleksander Wierny and Andrzej Szczerba.

We leave with a feeling of great satisfaction at the great improvements that have been achieved. However, the work is still not finished and we will return next year.

For 2019, the work is done – Kol Ha’Kavod to you all!

DAY 1: 11th June 2019

In unusually warm weather, the working of cleaning up the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery began. The previous week, skilled aborists had entered the cemetery grounds and commenced cutting up trees which, over the years, had fallen due to the ravages of weather and time. These trees had blocked pathways the cut-up logs will be used by people to warm their homes in the coming winter.

On this we were joined by volunteers from the American Matzevah Foundation, led by Rev. Steven D. Reece, from Democracy RP, led by Częstochowa City Councillor Mrs Jolants Urbańska, a volunteer team from the ADULLAM Foundation of Czestochowa, students from the Romuald Traugutt High School led by teacher Eva Harbenko, students from No.22 Elementary school of Częstochowa led by teacher Monika Rozpondek and other good people who came to help.

DAY 2: 12th June 2019

The sun is pitiless – it is 30oC inthe shade, but there is a constant supply of cold water and so our Polish volunteers and everyone else sticks to the task.

The morning starts with briefing for the students. Today, volunteers from the Matzevah Foundation and from the ADULLAM Foundation of Częstochowa are joined students from Częstochowa’s General Anders High School, led by teacher Katarzyna Rys and, for the second year, from the Kamieńskie Młyny Elementary School led by teacher Monika Rospondek. The students impressed everyone with the dedication with which they applied themselves to the task.

DAY 3: 13th June 2019

The weather does not ease up and the heat continues. Today, unfortunately, the number of volunteers was lower than expected and the shredding machine operator said he could not come today. A solution was need to uproot the tree trunks, so that firewood could be donated to poor people for the coming winter. So, there was no choice – improvisation was need! Firstly, Alon found an alternative wood-crusher and Steven Reece and Przemek Panasiuk, from the Matzevha Foundtion, organised a few volunteers. At noon, Elzbieta Ferenc , Adulam Foundation Director, announced that had found a way to remove the trees – today, hopefully!

In the meantime, TV people arrive at the cemetery for an interview and, to improve the mood, SMS messages are received stating that a storm is approaching. In spite of everything, more open areas can be seen and the remains of the wall, which had been hidden for years, are revealed.

DAY 4: 14th June 2019

It is Friday – the fourth and final work day of this year’s project. Today, the focus was on removing tree trunks to the path so that they could be removed from the cemetery and so that  branches could be collected and prepared for shredding. Work continued at full pace. To help, as every day, volunteers came from the Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam, led by Robert Kamela, a man with a huge heart who deserves great thanks for everything he has done and for his willingness to continue. Over the following days, Robert and his men will continue the work until the last tree trunk is cleared, the last branch is shredded and the last pile of wood chips is scattered. Volunteers today included students from Gastronomy High School students led by teacher Cezary Zwolski.