Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

All Soul’s Day blues

Posted by worriedlebanese on 02/11/2009

Ras_el_nabehAs I drove back home today in the pouring rain, I noticed three women entering a cemetery holding flowers (and umbrellas). They were probably visiting a relative’s grave. The neighbourhood they were in is a strange one. It’s made up of six or seven walled in cemeteries, each belonging to a different community. Most cemeteries lie on a planned highway’s path. Two of them are more or less abandoned.
This menacing highway was planned in the 1960s, and expropriation orders were issued. Two stretches have been built on both sides of the neighbourhood, but they do not pass through it. The Protestant community evacuated its cemetery couple of years ago (at the same time it evacuated another cemetery by the seaside in downtown Beirut that was expropriated by a private company). The Syriaque Catholic cemetery is still in use.
As for the Jewish cemetery, it looks rather warn down. Like the neighbouring cemeteries it suffered a lot of damage during the war because it lied on the demarcation line between East and West Beirut. But very little money was put into restoring it, while the neighbouring catholic and armenian cemeteries have been fully restored by the families of the deceased. Withstanding its desolate state, the Jewish cemetery is the main reason why all the other cemeteries are preserved. The government is afraid that any action against it would be interpreted as one directed against the Jewish community.
Do the three women I saw this morning entering a cemetery know that they owe the preservation of the grave they are visiting to the Jewish cemetery? If they did, I’m sure they’d try to visit it and put a stone next to a grave.

2 Responses to “All Soul’s Day blues”

  1. Tarek said

    I used to live in a building facing the Jewish cemetery and from which you could see all others (including the Maronite one facing USJ min wara, which in my opinion is the best kept one).. You could see from the balcony how some graves had broken tombstones and how bad its condition was… I wonder why no one is doing anything about it, especially with news that the synagogue is going to be restored?

    • The reason is pretty simple. Tombs are kept up by families, not by the community. So the community could gather money to work on the pathways (as it is doing to rebuild the Synagogue), but it’s up to individuals to finance the reconstruction of graves and tombstones, and most of the people who own the graves are abroad and do not visit Lebanon much.

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