Tallinn planning to repair historic Jewish cemetery in Veerenni

The former chapel in the Jewish cemetery.
The former chapel in the Jewish cemetery. Source: tallinn.ee

The old Jewish cemetery in Tallinn, now only marked by a small memorial stone in a wall surrounding a wasteland, will be repaired in the coming years, the city council has said. The plans will cost an estimated €40,000 and will include a memorial area and an information board about the site's history.

 The old Jewish cemetery on Magasini Street, Veerenni was built in the 18th century, and destroyed in the 1960s.

Tallinn central (Kesklinn) elder Vladimir Svet (Center) told ERR the cemetery had originally been divided into two: one part was a funeral area where the Jewish community were buried before the Liiva Cemetery (Liiva kalmistu) was built. There were also two chapels or mausoleums that can be seen from old archival images.

In the other part of the cemetery, on the corner of Herne Street, there was a guard who took care of the cemetery and there was a house and a garden shed.

Svet said: "The city's idea is to keep the division, to draw a notional border between the two places. A memorial area will be made where the burial site was, which will be separated from the rest of the area. Meadow plants will be planted, information boards will be installed which explain the history of the cemetery, and we will probably try to highlight the foundations of a larger chapel so people who walk there have an idea of ​​what was once there."

In the section formerly belonging to the cemetery guard discreet seating will be added, as well as lighting and landscaping to create a tranquil green space which will contrast with the park across the road with has a children's playground and activity area.

If not immediately, in the longer term, both the Heritage Board and the Jewish community want to partially restore the gate at the end of Herne Street in Magasin Street.

Svet said: "Two years ago, we organized cleaning and brainstorming sessions with local people and members of the Jewish community at the cemetery and discussed what could be done in the area. Today's sketch is a direct consequence of this work, and the city budget also provides money for the designs." 

The city plans to spend up to €40,000 on the project, but it is too early to discuss the cost of cleaning up the cemetery, as it is still at the draft level. Svet said the city wants to complete the design work this year and submit a proposal for financing the work next year.

"Since it regards next year's budget, it's a bit early to tell how fast, and how much money will be made available, but if all goes well, it will be possible to give this cemetery a whole new look in a couple of years," he said.

On Thursday evening, city representatives will present a sketch at Herne 6 and want feedback from people.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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