Global Test

Berdichev Jewish Cemetery Restoration, Ukraine

The Commission has begun an ambitious multi-year project to restore the historic Jewish cemetery in Berdichev, Ukraine. The cemetery is one of the most important in Ukraine, in part due to the artistic quality of its gravestones. Approximately 5,000 stones are still on the site, some dating from as early as the 18th century.

Beginning in the 18th century, Berdichev was a center of the Hasidic movement, which transformed Jewish religious practice in much of Eastern Europe. Many of Hasidism’s revered leaders are buried here. Among the most famous is Rabbi Levi Isaac, who died in 1809.

The Jewish population of Berdichev peaked at nearly 50,000 in the mid-19th century. It declined to 14,000 in 1990, and is less than 800 today. This has left the community unable to preserve the enormous cemetery.

Most of the cemetery is walled in, but one of the most serious problems is erosion caused by private development along the unfenced eastern edge of the cemetery, where the construction of garages has aroused concern from Jews around the world.

The Commission obtained a grant of $10,000 for restoration of the cemetery from a private foundation.

Of the $10,000 grant half will be used to clear away vegetation from part of the site. Almost the entire cemetery is heavily overgrown with trees and shrubs making most of it inaccessible to visitors. New pathways will also be created to allow a preliminary mapping of the site, access to visitors, and regular maintenance. Over time, as more trees and bushes are removed, mapping can be completed in detail, including documentation and conservation of the thousands of gravestones.

The other $5,000 will be used to conduct additional legal research to correctly ascertain the historic boundaries of the cemetery. It is claimed by many former and present Berdichev residents that the cemetery extends considerably beyond the boundaries recognized by the municipality and possibly comprises the area on which the construction of garages continues. Once the legal boundaries are determined, the cemetery can be demarcated and fully fenced.


Back to the List of Projects

President Reappoints Three Commission Members

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                                                                              October 23, 2014

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent... to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts...

  • Herbert Block – Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
  • Richard H. Weisberg – Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
  • Gary P. Zola – Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad

President Obama said, “These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

...

Herbert Block, Appointee for Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad

Herbert Block is Assistant Executive Vice-President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a position he has held since 1999.  He was first appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in 2011.  Previously, he served as Assistant Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs for the New York City Independent Budget Office from 1996 to 1999, and was Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Relations at the Corporation for National and Community Service from 1994 to 1995.  Mr. Block was Assistant to the Mayor of the City of New York from 1990 to 1993 and a Special Assistant to the Manhattan Borough President from 1986 to 1989.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Jewish Restitution Organization.  Mr. Block received a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Dr. Richard H. Weisberg, Appointee for Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad

Dr. Richard H. Weisberg is the Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, a position he has held since 1976.  He was first appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in 2011.   Dr. Weisberg began his academic career as Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Literature at The University of Chicago in 1970 and is currently a Visiting Professor of Law.  He is the founding and current president of the Law & Humanities Institute and founding and general editor of a periodical, Law and Literature.  Dr. Weisberg is a recipient of Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships.  In 2009, he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government for his work to provide restitution from France to victims of the wartime Vichy regime.  Dr. Weisberg received a B.A from Brandeis University, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Dr. Gary P. Zola, Appointee for Member, Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad

Dr. Gary P. Zola is the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.  He also serves as Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Dr. Zola was first appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in 2011.  He is a member of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society.  From 2002 to 2005, he was Chair of the Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History and from 2006 to 2010, he was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.  Dr. Zola received a B.A. from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and an M.A., Rabbinic Ordination, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.

Countries