10 October 2006

Aden's Jewish cemeteries

For two very interesting articles from the Yemen Times, look for "Jewish Tombstones in Aden, Parts 1(link) and 2(link)."

The author is Professor Aviva Klein-Franke of the Martin-Buber Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne, Germany.

Four Jewish cemeteries in the Aden area have been documented. Two ancient cemeteries were closed to burials prior to the 19th century. A third one, in the Crater area of the city center, was still in use during the British occupation. The newest cemetery (1860-1967) is Ma‘ala.

Among Aden's Jews, and in Yemen, the word for cemetery is me‘ara (pl. me‘arot, cave, caves). The ancient Aden cemetery was called me‘ara yesana or old cave. The old cemeteries had been abandoned for many generations before the British arrived, although the Crater cemetery near the Jewish quarter was in use until about 1860. Many tombstones bearing Hebrew inscriptions were scattered over the area.

Ma‘ala was used until the Jewish community was dissolved in 1967, and has hundreds of graves.

The articles discuss the researchers (Sapir, Harkavy, Ben Zvi and others) who visited Aden and what they discovered.

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