In 1727 the Jews, who had been burying their dead here for nearly four centuries, were granted permission to build a wooden fence around the cemetery and, twenty-two years later, a stone wall. With 6470 tombs over twelve acres, Rosenwiller’s Jewish cemetery bears witness to a long history: the oldest tomb dates from 1657.
Place de l’Équarrisseur
“When the Jews asked for a place to bury their dead (around 1350), they were shown a huge, arid square in Rosenwiller at one end of which the slaughterer buried dead horses. At the other end, they were allowed to bury their deceased coreligionists”.
Élie Scheid, Histoire des Juifs d’Alsace (History of the Jews of Alsace), 1887 (Paris: Librairie Armand Durlacher, Reprint Willy-Fischer, 1975).
Here and there in the older part of the cemetery, visitors will come across short Hebrew poems in homage to the dead, as well as a number of recurrent symbols: broken columns for child mortalities or young women who died without offspring; Shabbat lamps for pious women; jugs for the Levites; blessing hands for the Kohanim (according to tradition, the Levis and Cohens descend from tribes devoted to the priesthood).