In Slovenia, one can find some traces of Jewish cultural heritage of which most are cemeteries that have tombstones incribed in Hebrew. Jewish cemeteries can be found in Ljubljana, Maribor, Ptuj and also a well preserved one in Rožna Dolina near Nova Gorica. It is not only the layout that makes this cemetery culturally rich but also the details; besides this cemetary is characterized by its visibility and completeness within the landscape.
The Jews in Gorica were first mentioned in written sources in 1316. In 1648, they established their own ghetto and as it appears set up their own cemeteries very early on. From records of the Jewish community in Gorica, which is now joined with the Izreali community in Trieste, the oldest tombstones are around 800 years old. This means that in Gorica, a Jewish community existed before aquiring city rights. From then onwards, the community used their own cemetery for burials from the period of the middle ages onwards.
Throughout the centuries, the use of separate cemeteries for burial was often dependent upon the prejudices the European population had towards the Jews and their traditions - Talmud requires burial outside the settlement in natural surroundings. The cementary in Rožna Dolina was located at a northeastern angle from the city and from there spread outwards. Changes did not occur for many years.
Changes occured in the 19th century, a time which brought huge social differentiation also among Jews and a time when they had a strong presence in society. A reflection of this was depicted in the variety of tombstones. This cemetary was used until the end of the Second World War. The cemetery's existing location dates from 1881 and with Mr. Giacomo Bolaffia's aid, 27 tombstones were brought from the older cemetery to the present one. The burial history can be tracked by the tombstone incriptions - epigraphs, which we placed in four periods. They are as follows:
- 1st period - from the 13th to the 15th century, inscriptions from 1406 and 1450
- 2nd period - from the 16th century to the 17th century, inscriptions from 1617 and 1652
- 3rd period - from 1732 to the year 1829, 16 inscriptions still exist, and in 1881 the tombstomes were brought from the old cemetery to the new one
- 4th period - from 1829 to the present, there are about 900 existing plaques
The Jewish cemetery in Rožna Dolina is one of the few in Slovenia. Due to its location, the age of its tombstones and their wealth pertaining to the history of art, this site is of national significance.