Volunteers from Israel, the U.S., Canada, and Belarus are part of an international team that is cleaning up one of the world”s largest Jewish cemeteries.
Large sections of Kozma Street Cemetery, in Budapest, have been reclaimed by nature after years of neglect but the volunteers believe they can restore it – and learn the history of the Jewish community in the Hungarian capital at the same.
“We are a delegation of volunteers from all around the world. We are from Israel, the United States, Canada, Belarus. And we are here to restore the cemetery, clean it up, as you can see, and also learn about the Jewish community of Budapest,” said Chani Kolan, a volunteer from Israel.
Kolan herself has a Hungarian connection. “I have roots here in Hungary too. My great-grandparents moved from Hungary to the States before the Holocaust. So I learned also about my roots.”
The volunteers have so far cleaned around 20% of the graveyard.
Marc Pintér, Friends of the Kozma Street Jewish Cemetery, explained the challenge.
“This is a huge cemetery, it is 77 hectares. Warsaw and Budapest compete for the title of the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. It is either this one or the one in Warsaw,” he said.
The cemetery has been operational for almost 130 years and is the final resting place of more than 300,000 people, many of whom have no living relatives.