Jewish cemeteries in Tunis:history and overview
The most ancient Jewish cemetery in Tunis (named “l’Avenue de Londres” or “the Passage”), was the main place of remembrance of the local Jewish Community with about 60,000 tumbstones, among which, these of famous Great Rabbis. It became, under the French Protectorat authorities, object of pressure (will to municipalize it, which brought about the Jewish riots in 1887); then, due to urban expansion, graduall , the cemetery became a territorial “hiatus” in the city center. During the Tunisian independance, the cemetery has been expropriated and municipalized, then changed into a public park. From 1894, because it reached saturation, burials were made in the new cemetery, outside the city: it was the origin of the Borgel cemetery.
(named after the Great Rabbi of Tunisia : Eliahou Borgel)
II . INVENTORY OF FIXTURES
The Borgel cemetery is the most important place of remembrance, nowaday , for Tunisian Jews: it counts more than 40,000 burial places, divided into about twenty squares, which we are going to be described. A large part of the cemetery has fallen into serious disrepair and many graves have lost their marbles due to vandalism acts, which are still going on; that’s why it is urgent to make an inventory of what is written on the tombstones. Some initiatives were taken in order to keep them in good conditions, or to restore the broken parts, and, above all, to pick up accurately most informations: so, the Tunis Jewish International Association (AICJT) has done, for this purpose, some missions in the Borgel Cemetery, helped by numerous good wills: Tunis Manouba University, organizations such as Marseille – Provence and Rebi Association. Therefore, we could notice some precise data: lists of over 18,000 deceased persons’ names, more than 200 Rabbis, and those of soldiers who died during the WWII. More than 5,000 photos of tombstones, rich with genealogic informations, and already used to established pedigrees. The analyse of 200 epitaphes where are written informations about the life, the families of the deads and medical circumstances about their deceases. A succession of databases due to tragical circumstances: epidemies, bombardments during the last War. This long and meticulous work will be able to continue if the political situation in Tunisia will allow it and if various civil commotions will calm down.
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