Video, Photos: 500 Rally at Swiss Mission in New York Appealing for a Halt to the Destruction of Zurich’s Historic Jewish Cemetery


A crowd of 500 braved freezing weather on Monday to appeal to the Swiss government to temporarily halt work that threatens a medieval Jewish cemetery in Zurich, in order to start a dialogue with experts in the field to find engineering solutions under which the expansion of the Zurich Kunsthaus (Museum of Modern Art) can proceed without destroying the cemetery.

Jews appealed to the Swiss government to stop the planned destruction of the cemetery, opened in 1381, and to facilitate a meeting with the Swiss City government to find an amenable solution. After those attempts hit a dead-end, and with earth moving machinery already working on the ground, they were left with no choice but to take the plea publicly. A rally took place in Tel Aviv two weeks ago, and this Monday, a large rally took place in New York and in London.

The rally took place in front of the Swiss mission to the United Nations and the Swiss Consulate General in New York. It was attended by people from all walks of life, representing a cross spectrum of Orthodox Jews, from Modern-Orthodox to Hasidic Jews, demonstrating the widespread concern over the impending destruction of the cemetery. In addition to speeches, psalms and prayers were recited for the protection of these graves.

“All cultures are important – let’s not build one culture house, by destroying a 635 year old piece of our joint heritage,” appealed Mr. David Katz, Associated Director of UJO of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, in his speech.

During the rally, several of the organizers met the Swiss Consul General, Ambassador Andre Schaller, and communicated their plea to the Swiss government.

“We expressed our outcry and heart-felt tremble that this holy cemetery may be – Go-d forbid – uprooted,” said Rabbi Lazar Stern, Chairman of Asra Kadisha, an international organization for the preservation of Jewish cemeteries. “The Honorable Ambassador heard us loud and clear, and we hope and pray that the Swiss government and City of Zurich will reconsider and meet us, to find a way to preserve this cemetery.”

“I noted that Switzerland is viewed as the very epitome of Western civilization. To permit the brutal exhumation of a 600 year old cemetery in the face of universal understandings regarding such sites, eroded that image,” said Dr. Bernard Fryshman, of the Conference of Academicians for the Protection of Jewish Cemeteries.



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{ Newscenter / PHOTOS BY JDN}



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