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BOOK: Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to East-Central Europe. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1992. Pages 238 has town and photo information for Nova Gorica.

Alternate name: ROZNA DOLINA. The Habsburg-controlled town Gorizia (north of Trieste) went to Italian control in 1918, but after WWII, the town’s suburbs became part of Yugoslavia. Known as Nova Gorica (New Gorizia) is and now part of Slovenia, in 2004, a wall dividing what had become two cities, one Italian and one Slovene, was removed making the national border virtually invisible. Jews probably resided in Gorizia since the 13th or 14th century as bankers and moneylenders. The city became Austrian in 1500. In 1534, Ferdinand I expelled the town’s Jews. The expulsion order was ignored although repeatedly renewed since the Jewish community was deemed so vital to Gorizia’s economic life. Local officials finally pressured the imperial authorities to lift the ban in 1624 when Ferdinand II granted the rank of Hofjude (Court Jew) to Joseph Pincherle. A ghetto was established in Gorizia in 1698. 1764 census: 256 Jews (127 men and 129 women) working in the silk industry or as pawnbrokers, merchants, rag and ironmongers. In 1777, many Jews moved to Gorizia after expulsion from small towns ruled by Venice. By 1788, the community of 270 people represented about 4% of the town’s population. Few Jews remaining in Gorizia on the brink of WWII  were deported to Auschwitz on November 23, 1943. A synagogue built on the site of an earlier prayer house in 1756 (renovated in 1894) and the former ghetto on Via Ascoli are located in the Italian section. The ancient and extensive Jewish cemetery, in a beautiful location near the border, is in Slovenia. [January 2009]

Jewish Cemetery: "The triangular cemetery encompasses 5,662 square meters, enclosed by a thick masonry wall of which one part has a red-tiled upper surface. A small stream separates the beautiful spot from a Ceremonial Hall. The main entrance is an unlocked iron gate with a menorah motif. A second entrance near the "point" of the triangle (via a gate in the wall) is reached by a footbridge over the stream. There is no plaque on either gate to identify the cemetery. A highway overpass parallels the gated "base" of the cemetery, affording a good view of the site.

About 900 tombstones exist. Some were found outside the current walls. Some were brought to the site from an earlier 1881 cemetery and moved inside the present `cemetery walls during road construction in the 1980s. A census of stones was made in 1876 at which time there were 692 stones. The updated list indicates 878 stones in 1932. These lists are kept in the archives of the Jewish community in Trieste [Italy]. They also contain notations that give biographical information about some of the people buried in the cemetery as well as transcriptions or translations of some of the epitaphs. The cemetery has been mapped in detail, showing each grave and marker. A 1876 list notes one stone from 1371, but that was not a local burial. The last burials are from W.W.II. There are tombs in memory of Auschwitz victims.

Most stones are low, knee-high or lower. Many stones have numbers carved on them from the 1876 or 1932 census. Some older stones vaguely resemble a turban. Family names and the number of stones with those names from the 1876 census include: Morpourgos (139), Gentilli (127), Luzzatto (80), Pincherle (56), Senigaglia (37), Bolaffio (34), and Jona (23), Richetti (17), Dorfles (10), Michelstaedter (7), Reggio (6), Oavua (5), Windspach (2), Schnabl, and Schonheit [1 each]. Italian sources say all the communities in the vicinity, especially Gradisca, which did not have its own cemetery, used the cemetery until the end of the 19th century. The cemetery is well cared for except for one small section." Book includes pictures. Source: Jewish Monuments in Slovenia. Gruber, Ruth Ellen and Samuel D. Jewish Heritage Research Center: November 1996. The US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

UPDATE: The 5,652 square-metre site on a wooded hill is enclosed by a thick masonry wall was larger. A small stream separates the cemetery from the former Ohel built in 1928 and ruined during WWII. (The Jewish community of Gorizia, Italy, donated the building to Nova Gorica in 1977 in return for guarantees that the municipality would maintain it. The Ohel was reconstructed in the late 1980s, a simple structure with a small attached structure on one side. The municipality rents it out as a café.) The main entrance at the base of the cemetery’s triangular site has an iron gate with a menorah motif. A second entrance, a footbridge over the stream, is located near the triangle's point . Many of the approximately 900 gravestones are not in their original location. Some gravestones were found outside the walls of the cemetery. Some were brought in 1881 from an earlier cemetery. Some were moved inside the present walls during 1890s road constructions. The cemetery was used until the end of the 19th century by other communities in the vicinity. In 1876 an inventory of the cemetery  in the archives of the Jewish community in Trieste (Italy) reveals  692 gravestones extant. The 1876 gravestone census lists 139 of the 692 graves from the Morpurgo family, 127 Gentillis, 80 Luzzattos, 56 Pincherles, 37 Senigaglias, 34 Bolaffios, 23 Jonas, 17 Richetts, 10 Dorfles, 7 Michelstaedters, 6 Reggios, 5 Pavias, 2Windspachs, 1 Schnabl and 1 Schonheit. A 1932 listing shows 878 burials. These lists contain biographical notes on some burials and transcriptions and translations of some epitaphs. The well mapped cemetery has each of the grave markers photographed. The earliest gravestone in the cemetery dating from 1371 was moved there from Maribor in 1831 by Salamon Luzzatto: ‘Regina, daughter of Zerach, wife of Benedetto’. The Institute for the Conservation of the Natural and Cultural Heritagelist legible inscriptions in four periods:

  • 13th to 15th centuries: An 1865 gravestone found  in the atrium of a house in Piazza del Duomo and now at the museum of Levi Joshua ben Isach(1406). A 1450 stone is probably of a member of the Morpurgo family.
  • 16th to 17th centuries. One 1617 inscription of Jona family member came from another gravestone discovered as building material in a house in the town. An 1652 gravestone may be the oldest identified stone directly from the cemetery.
  • 1732 to 1828. Sixteen stones transferred from the old cemetery to the current cemetery in 1881.
  • 1829 to date: Approximately 900 stones with Hebrew and/or Italian inscriptions. WWII burials are the latest burials. Memorials to Auschwitz victims.

Most of the gravestones are knee-high or lower grey sandstone markers, often very thick with flat rectangular or square faces and rounded tops usually with an epitaph and date of death framed within a border. A very few older stones have slightly more elaborate shapes including some with scalloped curves. Erosion is a problem. Many of the stones are barely legible. One older stones at the back of the cemetery is a round ball on a low cylindrical base. Other gravestones with decorative carving from several members of the large and important Morpurgo family from Maribor bear the family emblem: Jonah in the mouth of the whale. Other carved decorations include  Levite pitchers and one fragment near the main entrance with a winged head, like a Sephardic angel. The most famous person buried in the cemetery is early existentialist Carlo Michelstaedter (1887 to (suicide) 1910) whose plain upright stone with his name and the dates of =birth and death is next to the grave of his father, Alberto (1850-1929), a businessman.  Alberto’s gravestone has a Levite pitcher carving and a long Italian epitaph with Hebrew text beneath.[January 2009]

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 September 2010 15:35
 
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