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City in Ukraine using Jewish tombstones as construction material

By Mason White 12:33 PM March 4, 2013
Lviv market 

By: Ryan Lee Hall
(Scroll down for video) A city in Ukraine has been using Jewish tombstones as construction material, according to a Jewish activist in the city of Lviv.

The Jewish community in the Ukrainian city of Lviv has held a protest after hundreds of graves were still used as building materials of city roads and the central market.

Nearly a third of the population of the western city of Ukraine, some 140,000 people, were Jewish in the years before the outbreak of World War Two. Virtually all of them died in the Holocaust and almost all synagogues and cemeteries were destroyed by the Nazis, or when the Red Army captured Lviv in 1944.

Modern Lviv only retains some traces of its Jewish past. In the postwar years the Soviet authorities used the gravestones to pave roads and for reconstruction of buildings destroyed during the war.

Meilach Shochat, the head of a religious Non Governmental Agency in Lviv, said that the tombstones are very important to the Jewish community.

“You can see stones with Hebrew writings. Every stone is telling a story of the life of the person it was written for,” Meilach Shochat said.

Jewish tombstones or their fragments can be seen in the foundation of the old roads of Lviv and in the framework of the paving of the city market. Shochat said that the stones under the Lviv market are still sacred.

“Every day there is a desecration of graves here. Many people approach us. We have many letters supporting the request for removal of the stones from this market,” Shochat added.

Outside of Lviv, in the city of Dobromyl, one resident said that his yard is full of fragments from Jewish tombstones. He said that he would only be happy if the Jewish stones found a real home.

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