EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An abandoned Jewish cemetery ingrained in East Los Angeles history will get a major renovation, thanks to the generosity of a local entrepreneur.
Mount Zion Cemetery, referred to as the “orphan cemetery,” hasn’t been maintained in years and has suffered from devastating vandalism.
“This was somebody’s picture on a headstone that was beat out, pried off and thrown around,” Rabbi Moshe Greenwald told KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple.
Greenwald, who runs the Chabad of Downtown Los Angeles, said he heard about the conditions back in March.
“I didn’t realize the extent of the damage and when I came here the first time, I started to cry,” he said.
Greenwald told Kaple he wanted to find a way to restore a piece of the past and give the dignity deserved to those who had passed on.
“These were the founders of the Los Angeles Jewish community. Everything we have today was built on the backs of these people. That’s what makes it so sad and tragic,” he said.
The dream of restoring the cemetery became a reality when philanthropist Shlomo Rechnitz decided to take a look at the property himself.
“We were standing right about here and (Rechnitz) said, ‘I’ve seen enough.’ And he took out his checkbook and wrote out a $250,000 check and said, ‘On the condition that you start the work right away,’” said Greenwald.
Other people in the community banded together to raise an additional $50,000.
The work on Mount Zion is set to begin next week.
“The way that we treat our loved ones who have passed says a lot about us as a society,” said Greenwald.