Cemetery in Propoysk
The small Belarusian town of Propoysk is known from the historical documents of the Smolensk Principality, dating back to about the 12th century. They say that this name came from the Old Slavonic word "propoy", which meant a whirlpool in the place where two rivers converged. Jews have been here since the time of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but their mass migration to Eastern Europe began during the time of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. After the Polish-Russian war, in 1772 the city was ceded to the Russian Empire. The Jews in Propoysk were mainly engaged in commerce and handicrafts. At different times, their number ranged from 22% to 47%.
As in any other relatively large shtetl, Propoysk had its own Jewish cemetery. However, years and centuries, events and upheavals of this world left their indelible imprint on it. Now the remains of the old Jewish cemetery in Propoysk are more of a local landmark. An inquisitive eye on the remaining tombstones can present an approximate life story of many generations of Jews in this small Belarusian town, which once made it one of the most prosperous in the Mogilev region.
Today in the city of Slavgorod (as Propoysk has been called since 1945), the old Jewish cemetery is located on Krasnoarmeyskaya Street, 23, between residential buildings. The plot of land on which it is located is flat, the length of the perimeter is approximately 400 meters.
Until the early 1990s, there was no fence around the cemetery, and livestock could freely graze there. Representatives of the Jewish community obtained from the local authorities the installation of a fence around the cemetery at the expense of the state. In the end, around 1993, the fence was made, and part of the nearby Christian cemetery was also fenced. However, this matter was never brought to an end, and funeral processions go to this cemetery through Jewish graves. Today, the remaining Jewish cemetery fence is in poor condition and needs to be renovated.
There are about two hundred matzevahs at the Propoysk Jewish cemetery, the oldest of which dates back to the 19th century. Many matzevahs have different ornaments, which were worked on by a skilled stonemason, and many of the inscriptions are well read even today, despite their antiquity. Burials made in the pre-war years are also quite well preserved. There is also a post-war part of the Jewish cemetery, which has survived much better than the old one.
Many sections of the cemetery are overgrown with trees and shrubs, however, all of it requires clearing and renewal or replacement of the fence.