Right now I’m writing up a collection of information for those researching their Przedbórz Jewish roots, and once all of the sections are done I’ll combine it into a larger guide. But for now, here’s more on the Przedbórz Jewish cemetery.
The Przedbórz Jewish cemetery has been neglected and has reverted to a forest. There are only a handful of stones left, and most are unreadable. Many of the stones were removed to pave roads, and others were used in the construction of the town square. Some of these were rescued by the local folk museum, where they are now displayed.
As of 2016, the cemetery has been locked, and the local “guardian” must be contacted for admission. He only speaks Polish and if you would like him to come unlock it, he charges $10 for his time. His phone number is painted on the fence, +48 783 543 666. There are only a handful of matzevot left, and there is an ohel for Tzadik Yeshaya Weltfried that was built recently.
In 2017 I tried to visit the Jewish cemetery in Przedbórz. There are no signs in town, although it is listed on Google Maps. When I arrived, the entire place was fenced off, with a large metal wall that made it impossible to see inside. I later found that this had been recently erected through donations to prevent further vandalism, and until it went up the cemetery had been a popular hangout for local teens to covertly drink. On the wall was a phone number, which I texted (in English) and got an abrupt message back requesting $10. I asked whom I was talking to — I had no idea that having a cemetery “guardian” for Jewish cemeteries in Poland was not unusual.
Perhaps annoyed by my questions, the Przedbórz guardian stopped responding to my messages even after I agreed to pay to visit, and I was not able to see the cemetery where many generations of my ancestors were buried.
I visited again in 2018, this time with a group who had hired Polish guide, who called the Przedbórz cemetery guardian on my behalf, and organized to meet him to let us in. We found out that the guardian resides nearby, and that this is not a highly coveted job in town. No one wants to be the one left with the keys, which I would imagine come with a hefty load of emotional baggage.
I was glad to finally get to visit, although after seeing the Piotrków Trybunalski Jewish cemetery which was filled with beautifully carved headstones, and the large and impressive Częstochowa Jewish cemetery, which made my inner goth shudder with delight, the Przedbórz paled by comparison. I’ll admit that it was peaceful, but the complete lack of upkeep saddened me, as did the knowledge that the headstones had been removed to use as paving stones during and after the war. It was stunning how completely Przedbórz had erased its Jewish history, particularly when one consider that the town was predominantly Jewish before the Holocaust.
And here are some more recent photos from 2019.
The location of the Przedbórz Jewish cemetery: