Rules of conduct when visiting the cemeteries
In order to inform you as best as possible, here is some background information about the Jewish cemeteries in the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands there used to be Jewish congregations even in the smallest places. In the Second World War, about 80% had to be dissolved or merged with other municipalities. The cemeteries of these defunct congregations still exist.
Cemeteries are highly regarded by Jews. The link with the ancestors is very strong and that is why Jews continue to visit the graves of deceased relatives. It is a Jewish rule that cemeteries are not cleared. That is why in many places Jewish cemeteries can be found as silent witnesses of Jewish life that has disappeared from that part of the country. The NIK (Organisation of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands) now manages the nearly 180 cemeteries of the disappeared Jewish congregations in the Netherlands. It will be clear that it is not an easy task, especially when it comes to financing, to preserve the cemeteries according to Jewish tradition and regulations.
In recent decades there has been an increase in recreational visits, often in groups. In practice this sometimes involves eating food and drink leaving trash behind, unwanted behavior (eg children playing), walking over graves and entering the cemetery on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. There is certainly no objection to a visit, but a Jewish cemetery is not a place for tourism and recreation. It is an eternal resting place with associated reverence, for those who are buried there. When you visit, keep the following in mind:
• The cemeteries managed by the NIK are private land. The legal provisions and rules that apply to private property also apply to this. You enter the cemeteries at your own risk; the NIK is not liable for any damage in any form whatsoever.
• The Jewish cemetery has the same sanctity as a synagogue and people behave as if they were in a synagogue when visiting, so among other things: – gentlemen have their heads covered – people do not walk over the graves, but follow the paths as much as possible – the cemetery serves not for leisure; so no food, music, sitting / leaning on tombs etc.
• Gravestones in cemeteries in the Netherlands are the legal property of the land owner and the economic property of the next of kin. In some cases, the legal provisions apply with regard to the personal data mentioned. Publication of personal data is not allowed.
• Publication regarding NIK cemeteries, in whatever form, is in consultation with the NIK and only after written permission.
• Jewish cemeteries are open for grave visits during the generally applicable opening hours. If not mentioned at the entrance to the cemetery, you can get information about this from the NIK. Cemeteries are closed on Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Organized visits or visits by groups are only possible in consultation with the NIK. This site wants to be an example to contribute to the respectful preservation of the Jewish cemeteries in the Netherlands.