In December 2013 We have registered as a non-profit organization, according to the Law of Non-Profit Organizations of the State of Israel, to be called: "The Association for the Jewish Heritage of Gallipoli".
We opened a bank account and a PayPal account and started to raise money for the project. Unfortunately, only few people responded to our plea so the money we managed to raise was enough for only basic activities.
In the beginning of 2014 Asra Kadisha organization in Israel volunteered to join our effort for rehabilitation and conservation of the cemetery. Asra Kadisha is a committee of Orthodox Jews with a mission for protection and preservation of Jewish gravesites all over the world. The leaders of Asra Kadisha in Israel are Rabbi David Niederman and Rabbi Hezekiah Kalmanovitz.
Asra Kadisha helped financially. They facilitated tools and money, recruited and managed the work teams. They led the dialog with the local authorities. Their endless devotion for the sacred mission is the main reason that the danger of extinction of this holy cemetery was removed for now.
Following are the activities and results achieved in 2014:
The cemetery ground was cleaned of all wild vegetation (bushes and weeds) and the ground was treated with anti-growth chemicals immediately after and twice again in the autumn.
Approximately 1,200 "new" grave stones, covered with mud and dirt for many years, were exposed so the number of known graves grew up from 835 (as reported in Prof. Minna Rosen's survey from 1995) to approximately 2,300. By exposing that large number of graves our case with the local authorities (that this cemetery is an ancient Jewish burial ground which must be conserved as an historic site) was strengthen. See comparison of the cemetery in 2008 and now.
Spring 2014 Summer 2008
When the future development plans of the local municipality (of Gelibolu), regarding the land of the Jewish cemetery, were revealed it became obvious that the cemetery was about to become a piece of real estate. Bulldozers of a contractor, prepering the ground for building a school, destroyed without any notice graves on the edge of the cemetery and in a very short time a 3 stories school was built. Thanks to the intervention of Asra Kadisha people, which met with the mayor of Gelibolu and with the governor of the region in Chanakale, all future development plans were postponed . On March 25, 2014 Namic Kemal Nazli, the Governor of Gelibolu region wrote the following letter to Rabbi David Niederman the president of Asra Kadisha:
Although the promises of the local government officials to stop any feature plans of development and to preserve the Jewish cemetery, we were advised to get an official Turkish court ruling regarding the legal status of the cemetery. Our member Rami Sivachi, a Turkish citizen and a resident of Gelibolu filed an official request to the Turkish court to rule that the old Jewish cemetery of Gallipoli (Gelibolu) is an ancient Turkish Historic site. The case is being processed these days and we hope for a positive rule soon. Until that rule is given by the court, we are not allowed to do any works in the cemetery. If the court rule will be positive chances are that the Turkish Government will proclaim the cemetery as an historic antiquity site.
As a recommendation of Asra Kadisha people we installed a video camera on the near bye building and connected it to the internet. One can view the cemetery any time anywhere via the internet on the following link:http://126.96.36.199/new/index.jsp
We would like to thank all who helped us with their donations:
Mr. Shimon Haviv , Mr. Victor Abulafia, Mr. Michael Moor,Mr. Mark Abolafia, Mrs. and Dr. Andoras, Mrs. And Mr. Elazar, Mr. Haim Kainan, Dr. David Shabi, Prof. Avram Hayali, Mr. Tal Russo, Mr. Nathan Russo, Mr. Haim Ben Altabib, Mr. Albert Ifargan, Mr. Zion Neeman, Mrs. And Mr. Dror, Mrs. and Mr. Kara, Mrs. and Mr. Guy.
Special thanks to Prof. Minna Rosen for giving us the list of tombstones from her survey.
And last but not least many thanks to Rabbi David Niederman and Rabbi Hezekiah Kalmanovitz, and all the rest of wonderful Asra Kadisha crew members.