Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sephardi paupers'cemetery on Mount Zion

The squills covering the southern slopes of Jerusalem's Mount Zion artfully conceal an ancient Sephardic paupers cemetery, Haaretz reports.

The squills are part of the history of the Sambusky Cemetery, where rows of the tall flowers demarcated sections of the burial ground, taking the place of stone walls, for which there was no budget.

The squills remain, having spread out along the length and breadth of the hill, although complete headstones are long since a rarity. Many headstones were shattered to use as construction material when the Jordanian Legion built a camp nearby. Roads were paved across the cemetery, which long ago became a dumping ground for junk and other garbage. A chop shop was closed down, but it was replaced with chicken coops. Horses and goats graze here, and recently a mosque was built at the edge of the cemetery.

The origin of the cemetery's name is a point of some dispute. One version has it that Sambusky was the name of a family that used to bury its dead at the foot of Mount Zion. Another is that the nickname stuck because of its crescent shape, reminiscent of the sambusak pastry, once known as the pastry of the poor.

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