Descriptions of documented graveyards - (185) Milevsko
Description The cemetery is situated rather far from the village, uphill, above the monastery. (In maps it is marked as a hamlet called „Židovna“). It is formed by two parts – the older one (the one closer to ohel) and the newer haskalic one, which is quite well preserved, except about ten grave-places in the line D (It´s apparent that curb-stones and gravestones are missing. They weren´t placed here at all? Was the stone disposed? Stolen?).
The cemetery is formed by nine – more or less - distinct rows (A to J); „the sitting order“ in the oldest part, which is home to gravestones from a second decade of 18th century (1715,1719), is a little bit inconsistent. Nevertheless the jewish community in Milevsko respected the order of „burying“ pretty chronologically. We can assess both datations from above easily (graves d-06 and c-06). The other grave-stone from early times (1714 – grave c-07) might have been of different dotage because of an extensive erosion. For all that a guess of construction developments of the cemetery is possible.
It proceeded in two or three stages. The first and (maybe also) the second phase started at the very very beginning of the cemetery´ s existence and ended sometimes in 1880´s. As already mentioned above, it is placed closer to ohel (and the city). Around the year of 1881 – at the times when modern religious jewish community in Milevsko was found - the cemetery had to be enlarged. The need to bury more „densely“ can be proved by „additional“ rows rows (EP and F). Their datations differ: from 1858 to 1876.
Whole place is in a good condition. Out of 233 preserved maceivot or their remainings are still perfectly or at least partly legible about two hundred. About five gravestones lie with their front down.
A certain hazard present local Ash trees (fraxinus). We had visited the cemetery for the first time in 2003 and then in 2006. By then Ashes turned into very bushy band.
Characteristics Probably the most characteristic feature of this forestal cemetery is its „row of honor“ – a row of decoratively and textualy very rich gravestones. The row was founded at a very beginning of cemetery´s existence, as we can see at datations of „starting“ matzeivot (1743,1758,1744). What strikes us is a numerous presence of datations comprising the year of 1761 (altogether seven gravestones; four of them are most valuable – all lie besides each other in a row H).
The second typical characteristics could be described as a certain „false sductiveness“. Rather high number of matzeivot seem to „pretend“ it is possiblo to deciphre them quite easily. But – the kind of stone material and and erosion let us down in many caces. All these epigraphs are presented in „unusual“ section of question marks…
The cemetery served many communities. One can also find graves of refugees from Galicia. In one case (grave h-02) there is an explicit reference to an expulsion from Prague (Meir Tausig, died 1748). Number of stones adherent to members of chewra kadisha is remarkably low. In principle we can mention only a single family – Plechners (rav Tovi, died 1860, and his son rav Ignatz, died 1885). The last declaratory remark about micva „chesed shel emet“ is in the text of Mrs. Mirjam bat Aharon´s gravestone. Unfortunately it is set-in deep into the ground and it is therefore impossible to read a datation (grave c-16)
Language and Style of Epitaphs In general we see how language (hebrew especially) corresponds with the time of cemetery´s foundation and its further historical developments. We would like to point out several interesting phrases. There are also cryptograms present and simple chronograms (the most valuable one is the paraphrase of the Psalm 91 on the gravestone 147). Very interesting is also the Haskalic part. Bilingual sings are either hebrew-czech or hebrew-german. And as it is common in case of most jewish cemeteries, even here in Milevsko is liturgic poetry often recasted into rather naive verses.
Symbology Speaking in general we can assert, that the cemetery in Milevsko largely refers to the spirit of secession (see decoration of the hascalic part and the very texts). Clasical symbols – well known in the tradition - are rare. There are only eight symbols of kohanim (3.5 %) present; there is only one levites set exhibited (on a hascalic grave-stone). However, it is worth to mention other motifs: of a cock (Hahn family), a heart (d-09), couple of „portal matseivot“ (mostly in the row H) and one other „faunal“ motif (c-06). The cemtery doesn´t lack a glimpse of parochet and floral motifs as well.
The most attracting are the third, fourth and fifth gravestone in the row H. Their portal matseivot are very rich – ornamentaly and textually. While the decoration is still well preserved, the letters are partly damaged.
(translated by: tomatom)