Jewish cemetery in Yelets, Lipetsk region, Russia
Yelets was beyond the Pale of Settlement. Jews have settled in the city since the 19th century. According to the 1897 census, 764 Jews lived in Yelets. By the 1970s, the number of Jews had dropped to 0.2%. 195 Jews lived in the city.
The Jewish cemetery appeared in the city at the beginning of the 20th century. According to the recollections of eyewitnesses, up to the 1970s, it fully functioned. A two-meter stone fence surrounded it. There was a caretaker's gatehouse on the territory of the cemetery. A part of the wall remained from it. In addition, old-timers recalled that burials of gypsies appeared at the cemetery in the 1970s. The graves of the gypsies have not survived.
By the 21st century, the Jewish cemetery turned out to be within the city limits. Residential buildings are close to the territory of the cemetery, located in the area of Kirpichny lane. Part of the cemetery has been taken over for private outbuildings. Only the base remained of the fence. The works carried out by public utilities damaged the area. Several graves were dug up with an excavator.
The cemetery area is overgrown with trees. Many gravestones are out of place.
The earliest surviving burial belongs to Moisey Leiba Steiman. The gravestone reads, "Died January 20, 1907". The most recent - M.L. Engelman (1889-1999). The inscription on the tombstone: "Here lies the ashes of an honest worker, a loving husband, a father of four children. Born in Olshanka, Podolsk province.».
There were several types of slabs in the cemetery: traditional matzevahs with inscriptions in Hebrew, steles with inscriptions in Russian and photographs (for example, the burial of Zambrovskaya Lyudmila Borisovna 1930-1964), and, according to the recollections of old-timers, there were graves in the form of sarcophagi. The cemetery is characterized by the horizontal and vertical arrangement of the slabs.
The gravestones of sandstone and limestone have been preserved. According to eyewitnesses, there were marble slabs in the cemetery. However, after the fence disappeared, they were stolen.
Matzevahs were decorated not only with inscriptions, but also with symbols of national identity (Star of David) and professional identity (violin, vessel of Hygea, etc.).
In addition to anthroponymical and chronological data, the gravestones contained epitaphs. One of the surviving ones says: “Abram is buried here. A person who is pleasant in all respects. «Chronological data and the surname on the gravestone have not been preserved.