Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2011 Brody Cemetery Project

Posted by Pamela Weisberger

A group of Jewish genealogists researching their Brody roots have created a long-overdue project to photograph, translate and index the more than five thousand headstones of the main Jewish Cemetery in Brody, Ukraine.

This cemetery was in use from 1834 until 1939. Upon completion of the project all data and photos will be donated to JewishGen's Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) and to Gesher Galicia for free searching by the genealogical community. To complete this work in a timely manner we need to raise funds quickly. A special page for online donations has been setup on JewishGen for this purpose.

Although many years ago there was another Brody cemetery photography project, the results were incomplete and it is necessary to start anew. (Partial results from that project can be seen on JewishGen's Brody ShtetLinks page.)

The 2011 project will be completed in two phases:

Phase one:
The project coordinator and photographer will survey the site to determine the extent of the work. Following the survey analysis, an on-site project coordinator and photographer will be hired and a few weeks later, the photography will commence along with the GPS mapping of the headstone's. Targeted completion date - May 2011.

Phase two:
Transcribing/translating the inscriptions into the JOWBR format in English. This includes the given name, surname, and parent's names, Cohanim, Levi, etc. and date of death. If we have funding remaining from Phase 1, we will be able to hire transcribers, and the balance will be completed by volunteers. Targeted completion date - February 2012.

The timing of doing the photography is critical: it must be done after the snow has melted and before spring growth begins.

Why Brody Is Important to Those With and Without Brody Roots:
As you know, many residents of Vienna once lived in Brody or had families there. Many Galician towns cemeteries no longer exist or many of the headstones were destroyed. Brody is unique in that the matzevah's exist in the same place as the bodies were buried. For those interested in Galician history this is a unique opportunity to document what remains of an important part of Galician history.

Jewish cemeteries throughout the world are threatened with vandalism and even extinction - the cemetery in Brody is no different. It is vitally important to preserve information about existing Jewish cemeteries so future generations will have knowledge of their Jewish family history and heritage, especially as it relates to members of their family who were murdered in the holocaust. More specifically, this project will help Brody researchers to create or fill gaps in their family trees, for when vital records no longer exist, cemetery records are often the only remaining evidence of a person's life.

In addition, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars and educators specializing in Jewish history and the Holocaust and specifically in the history of eastern Galicia and the town of Brody.

Brody has a very interesting and compelling history that makes the city important not only to those who can trace their ancestral roots to Brody, but to others in that part of the world. The city was ideally located near the southeastern Russian border, had access to good oxen-roads, later supplanted by railroads, and developed into the most successful commercial center in Eastern Europe outside of Lemberg (Lviv).

During the 19th century, Brody's Jewish population reached 88% of the city, was organized around the centrally located synagogue but its Jewish population decreased starting after 1880 and the mass migration out of Brody began.

After the partitions of Poland, restrictive trade laws were passed causing wealthier Jews to leave. The remaining poor from both the east and west fled to Brody as it was a transportation hub and it took months if not years for many to immigrate from Brody. Most Jews were merchants and laborers. Additionally, Brody was known for its rabbinical families, including the Katzenellenbogen, Babad, Rokach, Horowitz and Kristianpoller families and its great Kloyz
scholars.

Please, if you have Brody ancestors or are interested in the Galician history this is a unique opportunity to help us preserve our ancestors' memories. Please consider giving generously so that the work may begin soon. Donations can be made online by clicking here:

Higher levels of donations will give you early access to these records and the Excel files:

$100+ Donors: you will receive access to an Excel spreadsheet with all the information from the headstones collected that will be going to JOWBR in advance of the data being posted online.

$250+ Donors: you will be given access to a password-protected site to view all of the cemetery photographs and the Excel spreadsheet.

$500+ Donors: you will receive a copy of all the photographs taken at the cemetery, online access and the Excel spreadsheet. (Please note that all data provided to you is for private use only, and cannot be posted online, published, or used for any other purpose.)

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Brody Cemetery Project Committee:

Ami Elyasaf - Project Coordinator
ami.elyasaf@gmail.com
Rehovat, Israel

Pamela Weisberger - President, Gesher Galicia
pweisberger@gmail.com

Jan Meisels Allen
janmallen@att.net

Heidi Urich
hurich@comcast.net

Benjamin Solomowitz
BenJaye@aol.com

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