Jasna Ciric, the president of the Jewish community in Niš, Serbia, writes that the town’s tourism organization has put up a number of signs pointing the way to the historic Jewish cemetery, putting it on par with other historic sites and attractions in the city.
The key to the cemetery’s locked gate is kept in the local tourist information office and can be obtained there to visit the site.
“For me this is a great success,” she told us.
Jasna said the cemetery is now cleaned up by local authorities twice a year, and the local businesses that had been encroaching on the territory are no longer further threatening the site.
The Jewish cemetery in Nis is believed to date back to the 18th century. It was expropriated by the communist authorities in 1948, and burials were barred in 1965. After that, Roma families occupied about one-third of the site, building homes among the tombstones and creating a village without proper plumbing, sewage treatment or garbage disposal. Industry also encroached on the area, and the cemetery was long used as dump for rubbish and human waste. Vandals over the years broke open tombs, scattering bones.
A major clean-up operation in 2004 removed tons of garbage and waste that had covered the site to the depth of 1.5 meters and also installed a sewage system for the Roma village.
But the cemetery had received little care or maintenance since, despite being listed as a National cultural heritage site in 2007.