A massive Sunday cleanup was held at the Jewish cemetery of Petersburg on June 6. Students and teachers of various Jewish schools and youth programs, volunteers and their families came out and helped to tidy up more than half of the graveyard. Over 30 cubic meters of debris have been removed.
Last year there was no organised cleanup due to COVID restrictions.
The organizers asked the participants to devote special attention to the burials related to the history of the community: “These are the graves of the Schneersohns (relatives of the Chabad founders), as well as the rabbis of the Great Choral Synagogue.” The participants cleaned the tombstones of moss, cleared the paths, removed the branches, twigs and fallen leaves and uprooted young trees which pose a future threat to headstones.
“These are our ancestors and our memory, so it was a family event in every sense.”
Victoria Zakota, director of the Rakhamim Charity Center at the Great Choral Synagogue of Petersburg, thanked every volunteer who attended the event: “We are extremely grateful to all the participants in this important action of the Jewish community. These are our ancestors and our memory, so it was a family event in every sense. Together with Alexandra Shayud, the head of the volunteer program, we tried to provide each participant with water and wet wipes; in an impromptu buffet we distributed kosher pies and hot tea. We already have ideas on how to make the next Sunday cleanup even more efficient and more convenient for the participants.”
After the cleanup, the head of the Preobrazhenskoe Jewish cemetery Arkady Masenzhnik conducted an informal tour outlining the famous Jews resting in the Jewish cemetery.
The initiative was prepared by Ritual LLC and the administration of the Jewish cemetery with the participation of various Jewish organizations of the city. Similar events took place in other Jewish cemeteries across the former Soviet Union.
Video by Elena Slabkovskaya.
Photos provided by the Great Choral Synagogue of Petersburg.