“Restoring Historical Justice”: Memorial Marks Old Jewish Cemetery in Chop

A memorial stone was unveiled last week on the site of the old Jewish cemetery in Chop, a small Ukranian city in Transcarpathian Region. The ceremony was attended by the city Mayor Valery Samardak, Deputy Mayor Igor Gizhan, Chief Rabbi of Uzhhorod and Transcarpathian Region Menachem-Mendel Wilhelm and others.

According to Chop Mayor Valery Samardak, for many centuries the burial site on Temeto Street belonged to the local Jewish community, until it was destroyed in the 1940s. “After that, for many decades the authorities did everything to erase from our memory anything related to the Jewish people. But time passes and I think today’s outstanding event is about restoring historical justice,” he noted. 

It is believed that the first Jews settled in Chop, located near the borders of Hungary and Slovakia, in the first half of the 19th century. In 1880, the recorded Jewish population in the city was 133 residents (11% of the total population). By the 1920s, the number grew to 431. In April 1944, the Jews of Chop were forced to the ghetto in Uzhhorod and about a month later deported to Auschwitz. Most of them were murdered in the Holocaust and very few Jews live in Chop today.

Rabbi Wilhelm said the discussions with the local authorities about the memorial began two years ago.

Chief Rabbi of Uzhhorod and Transcarpathian Region Menachem-Mendel Wilhelm expressed his gratitude to all the supporters of the project: “This cemetery is a holy place, similar to a synagogue. When we decided to put up a sign of respect to this place, we were glad to see that so many good people understood the need to pay tribute to this place and to the people who lived and died here.”

The ceremony continued with a prayer, laying flowers at the memorial, and lighting candles.

Photos provided by the Chop City Council.

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