Cemetery

cemetery_entranceIt is here on this vast, gently sloping ground stretching fromKoskinou Gate (La Puerta de la Sivdad) to behind the towerof Italy, just beyond the fortifications, that the Jews of Rhodes have buried their dead for hundreds of years.

1665_burial_stoneThat is until 1938, when de Vecchi decided to lay out publicgardens, something which actually never happened. Incompensation for this desecration, the Italian authorities gavethe community a new ground near the Muslim cemetery, on the road to Kalithea.

Some thousand tombs were transferred from the old to the new cemetery by families that could afford the expense, oftenwith the help of relatives who had emigrated abroad.The oldest of the transferred tombs date from the 1870s.Thcemetery_monumentey are situated to the south of the main path through thecemetery. Some twenty or so tombs containing the remainsof Rabbis were transferred and rebuilt at the expense of thecommunity. The bones from other tombs, as well as thosefromtombs in the first small Jewish cemetery of Rhodes,wereinterred in a common grave.

As for the tombstones, after the Italians had removed ahundred or so of the most beautiful for the building of theGovernor’s Palace, the remaining stones were alsotransported to the new cemetery. Owing to their weight andthe bad, weather, the stones gradually sank into the grounduntil they disappeared.

Today, thanks to the interest and assistance of Rhodian Jewish America, many of these tombstones have been unearthedand exposed. Some of them are extremely interesting, bothon account of their form and the inscriptions they bear. Theoldest date from the middle of the 17th century.

The northern part of the cemetery contains roughly 150 graves. These are the graves of people who died in 1938 andsubsequent years, including those of the air raid victimsduring the Second World War. In this part, there is also acommemorative stone bearing the names of Jewish familieswho were deported from Rhodes.

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