Over the course of decades the Jewish graves in the Viennese Central Cemetery deteriorated to a miserable condition. Due to continuous neglect and the impact of several natural phenomenons (for instance the growth of wild plants, rain, snow) many gravestones have been damaged and are not recognizable, others become difficult to reach. Many of the transcripts of the names are not readable. Despite various attempts, engagement with this problem remains insufficient.
The main idea behind this project is bringing young people and other interested persons together, in order to improve the condition of the cemetery. Their voluntary engagement would be a first step aiming at the restoration of the cemetery into a dignified state. This would provide a connection between the young generation and the Jewish history of the city.
The initiative’s name is “re:Member“. “re:member” stands for the bond between the young individuals, soon to be part of the community (Members) and the former, somewhat forgotten members of the community, endowing them in the focus of remembrance (Remember), making them relevant to the current generation and community, thus making them once more visible members of the community (RE:member).
re:Member consists of three elements:
Maintenance and care
Fortunately some of the damage is reversible. The cleaning and removal of the detrimental plants that damage the stones would serve not only to improve the gravestones’ current state, but also limit further damage. Other damages would require professional work, such as the restoration of the scriptures and of the gravestones. In addition, the improvement of the labeling (signposting) is necessary.
The Registry Department of the IKG provides information to family members based on the Register indexes (birth, matrimony and death Registers, reaching back to 1800) . This information is very relevant and contains also the exact location of the graves of many Jewish people. But many of this Register indexes are partly incomplete. The do not contain a photo archive, neither a digital record or a translation of the insscriptions and in many instances the location of the graves is incorrect.
In addition the Register does not include all of the graves that are situated in the Jewish cemeteries in Vienna. The aim of re:member is to generate an archive of photos with exact digital records translated in English of all the readable scriptures. The project will make possible to detect and remove the inaccuracies of the Register and will contribute to complement the missing locations of the graves. Scientific studies from professionals with this topic would be desirable.
Building a connection
The initiative appreciates its members and young generation, that create a connection with the rich history of the Viennese Jewish People and set an example for the future. In addition, the initiative aims for future generations and the people of Israel may remember and honor the past, and get to know it by coming into a close contact with it both physically and online.
re:member is an association (Verein) registered in Vienna, Austria (ZVR 1423895764), is non-profit and consists solely of volunteers.
Be a member!