On December 9, 2020

Student raises funds to restore Jewish cemetery

Netanel Crispe

High school senior Netanel Crispe is raising funds to restore and preserve the oldest Jewish known cemetery in Vermont, though many Vermonters are completely unaware of its existence.

The East Poultney Jewish Cemetery  was first purchased by the Poultney Jewish community in 1873, and the Jewish cemetery marks the burial place of Vermont’s first Jews and is a testimony to their strength, perseverance, and devotion to their faith. Sadly this historic and religious site has been forgotten by its neighbors and community with many Vermonters not knowing of its existence. The Jewish Cemetery itself houses around 83 headstones, about half of which date from the late 19th Century to the early 20th Century. The conditions of the stones vary, with the worst lying broken on the ground in total disrepair, almost completely worn and so encrusted that their Hebrew and Yiddish inscriptions are illegible.

“It is our responsibility to maintain and preserve the history and legacy of these great pioneers. My mission is to save, restore, and preserve Vermont’s oldest Jewish Cemetery. Through the course of this project, I plan to have the most endangered and damaged stones (which number between 25-35) reset, reinforced, repaired, and cleaned by Bowker and Sons Memorials—a 100-year-old family-owned cemetery restoration business out of West Rutland,” Crispe said on his fundraising page.

“The rest of the headstones require far less work and may be able to be cleaned by volunteers. Doing so would save money and help the process go faster. I have met with the head manager of Bowker and Sons Memorials at the Poultney Jewish Cemetery to discuss the project and gain a better sense of the cost and time required to complete the restoration in its entirety. This is the plan we formed,” he said.

To view the GoFundMe, visit gf.me/v/c/g7mb/save-vermont-oldest-jewish-cemetery.

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