08 May 2009

Russia: St. Petersburg Jewish Cemetery online

Does St. Petersburg (Russia) figure in your family history? If so, family historians and Jewish genealogists will soon be able to find their ancestors buried in the Preobrazhenskiy Jewish Cemetery, with the help of a new website, Jekl.ru

According to the website of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS, the city's Jewish community is completing a massive internet project so that visitors will be able to find their ancestors' graves.

Unfortunately, as far as I can determine, the website is only in Russian. It would be of even more use to genealogists if there were an English version. Of course, even if you don't know Russian, you can still search for your family - once the site goes live.

Go to Steve.Morse.org and use his English-to-Russian translation tool. Type in the name you are looking for, get the Cyrillic version, copy and paste the name to the search box on the cemetery site. I type in TALALAI and retrieve these variations: талалаи, тэлалаи, талэлаи, тэлэлаи, талалэи, тэлалэи, талэлэи, тэлэлэи. I can then check each one at the cemetery site.

When and if you receive results, go to Steve's Russian-to-English translation tool, copy-and-paste in the text and get some idea of what you are looking for in English characters.

“The Jewish Community Center regularly hosts visitors eager to determine where their ancestors are buried," said Moishe Treskunov, the coordinator of this project. “They are mainly former residents of S. Petersburg and those whose great-grandparents came from our city. They are interested in their family history or wish to honor their ancestors by visiting their graves.” He further explained that the S. Petersburg community also receives many calls from individuals looking for their ancestors’ burial places from other countries, including Israel and the U.S.A.
The Jekl.ru website project developed to make it possible to find graves at the cemetery, and provides extensive search capabilities. The project involved organizational and archival work, photographing and cataloging all graves in the cemetery.

Treskunov said other features will be added, such as requesting care for a relative's grave or restoring a stone. Because of time and distance, not all descendants have an opportunity to visit their family's graves.

“To put people’s conscience at ease, they will be able to have their relative’s grave cared for and the gravestones restored,” said Mr. Treskunov. “Project staff will regularly send the client photos of the grave via e-mail, so that he can see its condition with his own two eyes.”
The city's Jewish community was one of the first members of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia. The project received funding from businessman Mikhail Khidekel of St. Petersburg.

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