of Tluste/Tovste’s Jewish Cemetery
The following pages display a selection of nearly 40 tombstones
that I photographed in the Jewish cemetery in October 2006.
I estimated that this represented about 10 percent of the
total. My aim was to test the feasibility of properly documenting
all of the tombstones remaining in the cemetery. I am very
grateful to Sara Mages, who did a wonderful job to transcribe
and translate these tombstones from Hebrew into English, with
remarkable efficiency. Her work demonstrated that, with experience
and proper image enhancing software, the transcription and
translation work might not be quite as time-consuming as one
might expect, but it would still be a big job nonetheless.
The same is true for preparing the material for display.
Only three of the 40 tombstones I photographed were virtually
illegible. Most of the others were completely or almost completely
readable; except for the year and/or month of death (in about
10 instances). In some of these latter cases, the missing
details may have resulted from obstructive vegetation or an
unclear image, which might be ameliorated on another visit.
Although the sample of tombstones selected was not random,
and may well have been biased towards stones that were more
clearly readable, this result holds out the promise that a
substantial proportion - I would guess at least 2/3 to 3/4
- of the tombstones will yield substantial information.
The tombstones shown on the following pages have been organised
chronologically, ranging from the oldest to the most recent
year of death: 1839 to 1935. This arrangement might be useful
if one is looking for an individual, and one knows approximately
when that person died. However, it's easy to see how this
system might become unwieldy for a complete listing of 400
or more tombstones.
Also, reordering them by year could have the undesired consequence
of concealing useful information: for example, by "displacing"
tombstones relating to family members buried close together
in space (and therefore photographed together), but not in
time. If organised instead according to spatial proximity
of the tombstones, some educated guesses might be made about
missing data (such as year of death), if it were the case
that individuals in nearby graves were buried during approximately
the same period.
My 2006 field exercise demonstrated that, with sufficient
time and resources, it would be feasible to document the entire
cemetery. If all of the tombstones were photographed, ideally
all of the information collected would be entered into a database
that would be searchable by name, year of death, location
in the cemetery etc. The latter would require at least a rudimentary
grid system, to allow one to pinpoint with reasonable accuracy
the location of each tombstone. An aerial photograph would
be extremely useful - and perhaps essential - for this purpose.
forward to the present:
I have since learned that, in 2014, the Jewish
Galicia & Bukovina Organisation undertook a major
effort that year to photograph, document and map the entire
Jewish cemetery of Tluste. The images cover tombstones reported
to date from 1678 to 1945, including more than 20 examples from
the 18th century. The data collected for each tombstone includes:
name of the deceased, family relationship, tombstone measurements,
GPS location, and epitaph text (only in Hebrew). Importantly,
it is possible to sort the data both by first name and by year
of burial, which may facilitate the process of locating a person
here to go directly to the Jewish Galicia
& Bukovina Organisation website records for Tluste's Jewish
|Equally important, the
project team prepared a detailed map of the location of every
tombstone, making it easier for people to find a particular
Click on the image to visit the map directly on the Jewish
Galicia & Bukovina Organisation website.
|A short footnote to this
story: In 2018, when I was in contact with the project leader,
Ilia Lurie, I learned that about 30 of the tombstone photos
were missing from the JG&B collection due to a technical
problem. I have since re-photographed them so that the JG&B
collection would be complete.
Final thoughts: There is possibly more that could be done to
analyse the available data collected by the Jewish Galicia &
Bukovina Organisation, if it were organised in a database rather
than a spreadsheet, and making comparisons with other historical
information on Tluste residents in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Also, while the Jewish cemetery in Tluste is still in relatively
good condition, some essential maintenance is required –
especially for some tombstones that have already fallen over
(or are about to), and risk being damaged or completely lost.
The Jewish Galicia & Bukovina Organisation has undertaken
excellent restoration work of this kind in neighbouring Buczacz.
Lastly, it is worth noting that The
Center for Jewish Art also has a wonderful, partial collection
of black and white photographs of tombstones from Tluste’s
Jewish cemetery, made in the late 1990s, including detailed
* * * *
Links to Jewish Cemetery pages of tombstones
I photographed in 2006:
Page 1 of 5: Selected
tombstones from 1838/39 - 1902
Page 2 of 5: Selected
tombstones from 1906
Page 3 of 5: Selected
tombstones from 1919
Page 4 of 5: Selected
tombstones from 1933
Page 5 of 5: Selected
illegible year of death