Southwestern Cemetery in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Jews have been settling in Bishkek since the end of the 19th century. The Jewish community of Bishkek increased significantly in the 20th century with the advent of Soviet power and evacuation during the Second World War. The Jews did not have a separate cemetery. According to eyewitnesses, during the war and post-war years, Jews were buried at the Ala-Archa Cemetery.
The Southwestern Cemetery is one of the five cemeteries in Bishkek. Opened in 1973. Over the years of its existence, its area has quadrupled. Today it is 330 hectares. There are more than 180 thousand graves in the cemetery. There are Muslim, Christian, Korean, Romani and Jewish sites. The Southwestern Cemetery is considered the largest in the country.
Since January 1, 2021, it has been closed for burials. Overcrowding and violation of sanitary standards became the reason for the closure. The houses of the Archa-Beshik residential area approached the cemetery. The distance between burials and residential buildings has decreased to 100 m instead of 500 m stipulated by sanitary standards.
The cemetery is partially cataloged. More than 80 burials have been entered into the electronic register. Eight of these are unidentified graves. Only two out of eight have partially preserved anthroponymical and chronological data. These are the burial places of Mikhail Lvovich (1917-1986) and Sophia Borisovna (1925-1965).
The earliest burial belongs to Ackerman Sara Moiseevna (1905-1973). Later - Kharitonskaya Rakhil Iosifovna (1924-2018). About half of the burials are gravestones with portraits. The use of symbols denoting ethnic identity is rather an exception.
Thus, the Star of David is depicted on the gravestones of Rakhil Iosifovna Kharitonskaya (1924–2018), Inna Romanovna Shargorodskaya (1891–1977), Tana Girshevich Paysin (1927–1992), Rukhil Abramovna Goldenshtein (1887 - the date of burial has not been preserved).
A menorah is depicted on the tombstone of Inna Romanovna Shekhtmanyuk (1937-1979). On the grave of Gurvich Meer Kopelevich (1902-1987) there are inscriptions in Hebrew.
In addition to national symbols, there are also ideological ones on the graves. Thus, the burial of Rakhman Naum Samuilovich (1910-1976) is a stele with a five-pointed star.
On the grave of Viktor Moiseevich Bykhovsky (1928-1992), a professional affiliation is indicated - there is an inscription "doctor" above the surname.