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Jewish cemetery in Staryi Sambir, Ukraine

Staryi Sambir is a settlement in the Lviv region of Ukraine, where Jews were allowed to settle since the 16th century. In the first decades of the twentieth century, they accounted for up to 80% of the city's population.

The Jewish cemetery in Staryi Sambir dates back to the middle of the 16th century and is considered one of the oldest in Ukraine. In Galicia, Poles and Ukrainians used the term "kirkut" to designate Jewish cemeteries. This designation is also available on the information stand located on the territory of the cemetery.

The necropolis is partially fenced. A stone fence with a height of 1.5 meters has been preserved. On the map of Staryi Sambir in 1853, the Jewish cemetery occupied a large plot of land. During the Second World War, the Jewish population of the city was destroyed. Out of more than 2 thousand people who lived in Staryi Sambir before the occupation, 15 survived. The cemetery turned out to be abandoned. Sources mention the partial destruction of the cemetery during Soviet times.

In June 2021, in Stary Sambir, after heavy rains, the banks of the Dniester River were washed away. Locals found matzevah from the Jewish cemetery protruding along the bank. According to the recollections of the old-timers, in Soviet times, slabs from the Jewish cemetery were used as building material for strengthening the coast.

The old residents could not remember the dates of construction work. There is also no documentary evidence of the destruction of the Jewish cemetery.

The necropolis was partially restored thanks to Jack Gardner, a native of Staryi Sambor, born in 1914. In the 1940s, he went to the front in the Soviet army. Was injured. In 1944, he returned to Staryi Sambir and found that his parents and two older sisters had disappeared. According to Gardner's calculations, he lost about 50 relatives during the war. Staryi Sambir became part of the USSR. Gardner and his wife moved to the western zone of occupation in Germany, and then emigrated to the United States. After retirement, he moved to Canada. For many years, Jack Gardner wrote letters to representatives of the Soviet government with a request to restore the Jewish cemetery of Staryi Sambir.

In the late 1990s, Gardner received permission from the Ukrainian authorities to restore the cemetery. Thanks to his efforts, about 1,000 gravestones have been restored at the Jewish cemetery of Staryi Sambir.