Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sidon’s Jewish Cemetary

Sidon's Jewish Cemetary

Originally posted on thejewsoflebanon.org on November 25, 2007 @ 9:26 pm ·

Filed under Projects

A few kilometers south of An-Nijmeh Square/Place d'étoile , Downtown Sidon, lies the Jewish cemetery, on a small hill supposedly overlooking the ever blue Mediterranean. On the western side, the cemetery is in very bad shape, the hill is sinking, and some of the graves have actually tilted.
Unfortunately, the cemetery is right next to the biggest dump in south Lebanon. A 100-feet high mountain of garbage on the southern coast of Sidon - by all means an environmental catastrophe. The Sidon Municipality has had enough pressure and scandals from the media I presume, so they have guards there preventing anyone from taking photos. They stopped me from taking the photos of the tilting side of the cemetery, or from entering it from that side. I tried to explain I was after the cemetery and had no interest in the dump, to no avail.

Eventually, I had to sneak from the other side of the cemetery, and climb the dusty hill, in broad daylight, which seems the best time to sneak anywhere without raising suspicion! There is no "entrance" per se for the cemetery. I recall there used to be a sign with Hebrew letters marking the cemetery, but that was removed. I think this is some sort of "hiding" the place to protect it from vandals.

Many of the inscriptions that only have Hebrew letters are broken, but those that have Arabic writing and Hebrew letters are left intact! I believe that there is more than a coincidence to this. I got to know that last year the place was cleaned by the municipality, the weeds, trees, etc, seem reasonably within control for a deserted graveyard.

I will try to go in without a very obvious camera next time, or use my cell-phone camera. I am not sure what can be done to preserve that cemetery, but my heart broke to think that these were someone's parents or grandparents, lying there; they died in their country, certain that they will rest in peace forever in their homeland. Look what happened! Nobody, dead or alive, should be desecrated or forgotten in their own country.

I was not sure what to say when I walked there, so I prayed in Arabic, a verse from the Qu'ran that the angels repeat to the souls in Heaven: Salamon Kawlin min Rabb Rahim – "Peace! A word from the Merciful God". Our God, their God, everyone's God. Peace!

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