Cemetery project among Jewish award winners

By LAURA STEVENS
The Associated Press
Monday, January 25, 2010; 10:17 AM

BERLIN -- A woman who launched a Web site to document her town's run-down Jewish cemetery and help finance its restoration was among Germans honored Monday for their efforts to preserve the country's Jewish cultural past.

The annual Obermayer German Jewish History Awards - funded by Boston philanthropist Arthur Obermayer - recognizes efforts by non-Jewish Germans to preserve Jewish history.

Angelika Brosig, one of the five recipients, established the Web site in 2007 after a friend who wanted to visit the Jewish cemetery in her Bavarian hometown of Schopfloch was moved to tears by its state of disrepair.

The cemetery was closed and fell into disuse after the Nazis' 1938 pogrom against Jews.

The Web site aims to document the stones and solicit experts to restore them and translate their inscriptions. Brosig also has been recruiting people to "adopt a stone," paying about euro250 ($350) each to restore a tombstone.

"When you're with the stones, you're with the people," Brosig said of the effort.

Of the 1,200 tombstones, about 40 so far have been restored.

Obermayer, a Jewish American whose grandparents were German, established the awards after being overwhelmed by help he received from Germans in researching his family's past. Jews outside Germany nominate the recipients for the awards, which are in their 10th year.

The ceremony is timed in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations, held Jan. 27 each year to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Other award winners this year include a retired farmer who reconstructed the history of a local Jewish community and helped establish a Jewish museum; a school teacher who reconstructed personal histories of local Jews; and a lawyer who restored a synagogue in his town square.

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On the Net:

Gravestone project Web site:http://www.juden-in-schopfloch.de

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