Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar 5766 - March 29, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Thousands of Graves to be Renovated at Mount of Olives

By Betzalel Kahn

The Jerusalem Municipality, in cooperation with the Prime Minister's Office, is set to launch Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky's revolutionary plan to renovate and develop the Mount of Olives cemetery.

The NIS 100-million project, to be carried out by the Jerusalem Municipality through the Jerusalem Development Authority, calls for the renovation of tens of thousands of gravesites, upgrading security, the construction of a stone wall around the entire cemetery, road construction, cleanup and maintenance and the construction of a large information center.

Many gravestones and gravesites were desecrated during Jordanian rule, including incidents in which the local Arab population carted off gravestones for use in construction. Roads laid by the Jordanians also led to the destruction of numerous gravesites.

After the Six-Day War in 5727 (1967) Jews once again had access to the cemetery, but since then only a portion of it has been renovated and the gravestones and gravesites are still in need of renewal work. Ezri Levy, director of the Jerusalem Development Authority, says the project is scheduled to take five years due to the nature of the site, which does not permit the use of heavy equipment, and the need to thoroughly attend to every gravesite.

Development work on the cemetery itself will include support walls the length of the mountain slope to prevent erosion, which poses a threat primarily in the area of the Sephardic sections. Lighting will be installed and a road will be built to provide access to all of the graves.

To prevent further damage to the cemetery, the Mayor has issued instructions to introduce new security arrangements using various technologies to provide round-the-clock security, including cameras installed at Nachal Kidron, Nachal Yehoshafat and the entire tourist area, transmitting images to a control center, which will operate in conjunction with the police.

The information center to be built at the entrance will include halls for tefilloh and gatherings, and the Jerusalem Municipality, in cooperation with the various burial societies operating at the cemetery, is compiling a database with information on all the graves. Once the grave mapping is complete, a process expected to cost hundreds of thousands of shekels, staff members will be on hand to direct visitors using the maps. The visitor center will also provide extensive material and written information about gedolei Torah buried at the Mount of Olives.


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