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Jewish cemetery in Tukums, Latvia

Tukums is a Latvian city where Jews have settled since the end of the 18th century. By the middle of the 19th century, their number was 47% of the population, and by the 1930s, it had decreased to 12%.

The Jewish cemetery in the city is located at the end of Klusa Street and has existed since 1799. This date is indicated on the website of the Museum "Jews of Latvia". In other sources, there are mentions to the fact that the cemetery in the city existed in the 1750s. A number of other sources indicate 1879 as the date of the foundation of the cemetery. You can also find references to 1801 as the date of the official registration of the Tukums cemetery. Burials on it were carried out until 1973.

The territory of the cemetery is approximately 1.6 hectares and is surrounded by a fence. According to various estimates, there are about 200 surviving graves in the cemetery. In 2005, volunteers from Latvia, Israel and Germany landscaped the cemetery.

Since burials at the cemetery have been carried out since the end of the 18th century, some of the matzevahs on its territory have been poorly preserved. In the region, they were made from field granite, which did not stand the test of time. The loose structure of the material was severely affected by atmospheric precipitation.

In addition to the traditional matzevahs and concrete gravestones, there are a number of oheles in the southeastern part of the cemetery. The most famous ohel grave belongs to Rabbi Levi Lichtenstein, a representative of the Tzadik dynasty known in Eastern Europe.

There is a story that on the eve of the occupation, local Jews hired a transport to evacuate and offered the rabbi to leave. Nevertheless, Lichtenstein remained, arguing that the move would violate the Saturday rule and that Jews who stay in the city needed it. The remains of Levi Lichtenstein were found in the mass grave of the Tukums Jews and were reburied in the cemetery.

The sign on his grave says that the rabbi rests with his entire family. Researchers believe that the inscription is metaphorical, since the rest of the members of the Levi Lichtenstein family could not be found.

Another type of tombstones typical for the cemetery is brick walls with an embedded tombstone.

Researchers note that at the Jewish cemetery of Tukums, there are practically no family burials and tombstones with different surnames are close to each other. Another feature of the cemetery is the lack of decoration on the tombstones. There are only inscriptions. Many slabs are not deeply engraved.

Burials of the post-war period are as simple as possible - a small metal plaque, stone or concrete tombstone.