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6. Old Jewish Cemetery

For over 300 years, this remarkable site was the solitary burial ground permitted for Jews to use.  Founded in 1478, it has been slightly enlarged over the years, but still remains the size it was in medieval times.  Due to lack of space, people were buried on top of one another and graves were 12 layers deep.  There are over 12,000 graves crammed into this tiny cemetery and an estimated 100,000 people are buried here.  The last burial took place in 1787 of a man named Moses Beck.  From the late 16th century, tombstones in the Jewish cemetery were decorated with carved symbols depicting the profession of the deceased or the family name.  For example, a pair of scissors indicated the profession of a tailor.  Grapes were used as a symbol of abundance.  The Cohen family's symbol were two hands depicting a blessing.  The most visited tomb in the cemetery is that of Rabbi Low (1520-1609).  Visitors lay pebbles and stones atop his grave as a mark of respect. The oldest tomb is that of writer Rabbi Avigdor Kara from 1439.