Poland pledges $28 million for Warsaw Jewish cemetery restoration

Poland pledges $28 million for Warsaw Jewish cemetery restoration

Poland’s government pledged $28 million to restoring the Warsaw Jewish cemetery, making the preservation project one of the largest of its kind in European history.

Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski told World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer about the funding on Monday following a Dec. 8 vote in the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, WJC wrote in a statement Monday. More than 400 lawmakers voted in favor and only four opposed, with six abstaining, TVN reported.

Singer and several others from the WJC delegation to the country this week were joined in its visit to the Jewish cemetery on Monday by Anna Chipczynska, the president of the Jewish Community of Warsaw.

The government is expected to transfer the funds to Poland’s Cultural Heritage Foundation, which will implement the restoration in cooperation with the Warsaw Jewish Community.

The ruling Law and Justice party, which initiated the legislation, wrote in the law’s introduction that the absence of “systematic maintenance” at the cemetery and overgrown vegetation are causing “a gradual degradation of one of the most important historical complexes in Warsaw,” in reference to the cemetery, which has a surface area of 33 hectares.

Poland and Slovakia alone have approximately more than 2,000 Jewish cemeteries between them, many of them in disrepair. Just the fencing for all of Poland’s 1,400 Jewish cemeteries would cost approximately $32 million, according to the country’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich.

The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, a German-funded pilot program for protecting Eastern European Jewish cemeteries, has helped preserve at least 100 graveyards since 2015 on a budget of $1.35 million.