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Alternate names: Niš [Serb], Nisch [Ger], Niş [Turk], Naissos [Grk], Naissus [Lat], Nissa, Nish, Nich. Serbian: Ниш. 43°19' N, 21°54' E, in SE Serbia, 125 miles SE of Beograd.

  • Encyclopedia of Jewish Life (2001), p. 894: "Nis".
  • Pinkas HaKehilot, Yugoslavia (1988), p. 196: "Nis"

Niš'  1924 Moderne synagogue is a protected historical monument andart gallery. See photo [January 2009]

Jewish cemetery: Located on the northwestern outskirts of the city at Cairska 28/2 near the former cattle market, the probably 17th century cemetery contains the remains of up to and possible more than 1,000 Jews, primarily Sephardim from Niš and nearby Prokuplje, a resting place of about 1,100 Jews of Niš who perished in WWII. The Sephardic gravestones are either shaped like sarcophagi above the below ground burial or are horizontal stone slabs. Many have stylized decorations, often Kabbalah symbols. Widespread deterioration and desecration in the site shows the oldest gravestones to date from the 18th century. Taken over by the Communist authorities in 1948 and closed to new burials after 1965, the site was neglected for decades. Part of the cemetery for many yearswas an illegal gypsy settlement of 120 homes built with gravestones for house foundations, paving, and even furniture. Opposite is an illegally built four-metre wall that destroyed a large number of tombstones. Since 2004, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia (now Serbia), the City Assembly of Niš, and private donors have been working to restore the site. Jasna Ciric, president of the Niš Jewish community, managed to get thirty soldiers to restore the cemetery and clear tons of debris from the site. The Niš authorities now provide improved sanitation for the gypsy settlement, now walled off from the cleared area of the cemetery. [January 2009]

2004 Desecration: "a devastated 17th-century cemetery used as a garbage dump, polluted by locally produced industrial waste, and in which gravestones had been dug up and used by local Roma, or Gypsies, for the repair of their houses and as household objects. A Roma family had moved into the prayer room at the site, and commenced to use the sarcophagus of a local rabbi, Rahamim Naftalija Gedalia, as a patio table and laundry-drying stand, according to a report in the Serbian daily Politika...a pigsty now sits in one part of the cemetery, and added, "most shattering of all, I found newly dug up graves and witnessed that the bones of the Jewish martyrs were scattered in mud and human waste... " photos [January 2010]

Holocaust Memorial on Bubanj Hill

Three large 1963 sculptures by Ivan Sabolic look like raised fists that commemorate the site where more than 10,000 people, including over 1,100 Jews from Niš and surrounding areas, were executed during WWII. [January 2009]

"A historic Jewish cemetery that long has been threatened by the encroachment of a growing Roma, or Gypsy, settlement that occupies one-third of the site is now being threatened by the encroachment of commercial enterprises into the domain of the old Hebrew gravestones. / In the labyrinthine Roma village, or mahala, 800 to 1,500 people live in brick and concrete houses separated by narrow passageways and irregular courtyards. Laundry hangs from the windows, water drips from open taps and some roofs sport satellite TV dishes. At one end is a stable for horses, and at the fence that separates the village from the open part of the cemetery, sheep and goats peer out at the graves. / Eight years ago, a well-publicized cleanup campaign cleared the cemetery of garbage and waste that had covered the tombstones and eliminated the open sewers that had run amid the graves. / But the campaign's success proved to be fleeting and now new warehouses, a restaurant and other illegal construction, including a cut-rate department store, intrude on another third of the cemetery, according to Jasna Ciric, the president of the Nis Jewish community, which numbers just 28 people. / There also have been new cases of vandalism, and builders closed off the cemetery with an illegal 12-foot high wall that made access difficult and sometimes impossible, Ciric said. / The builders also prevented the Jewish community from placing a plaque identifying the cemetery and commemorating local Jews wiped out in the Holocaust, she said. / "All the established safeguards of the Jewish cemetery in Nis have remained only on paper," said Ciric, 56, who has fought for the cemetery's preservation since the early 1990s. ..." Story continues here. [April 2012]

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 10:20