Facing the sea


Pebbles on the graves.
The toys of a child, stone toys.
A train, a plane, a car. Nice, terminus. Nice, Nizza, Niza, Nica, Nissa, Ніцца, Ηίκαια, Nicea, Nicaea, Nisa, Ницца. They dreamed of the Riviera, and then, one day, they got their passports, they had their visa, they could buy the tickets, and voilà, you take the children, the nanny, the granny, the unmarried aunts, the consumptive uncle, the dog, the parrot, the maid. You settle in France, you send the children to the school, you work, you work more, you obtain citizenship, you do your military service, you die for France.

You die.
The Jewish cemetery of Nice has extended for nearly a century and a half on the castle hill, just in front of the sea.
On the graves, old photos, browned, erased, faded, of smiling or thoughtful or serious or proud faces.

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They were born in Kiev, in Warsaw, in Kishinev, in Mariupol, in Kherson, in Odessa or in Nikolaev, in Kaunas, in Berlin, in St. Petersburg, in Lwów, in Radautz of Bukovina, today Rădăuți in Romania, also in Algeria, in Oran or in Constantine, in Taganrog, in Constantinople or in London, even in Rangoon of Burma, and also in Cairo. In Johannesburg.


They died in Nice, or in Menton, or sometimes even more far off, but their families brought them back here, next to theirs. To the sun above the sea.

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In the dark years, which were here still less black than elsewhere, some of them died far away, in the East. Of them remained only a few lines in their memory.



Some stones surprise you with their archaic typography. In fact, they have moved here the ancient tombs of a previous Jewish graveyard, which was once at the bottom of the hill. The oldest stone dates from 1540. On others, copper letters turned in green mirror in the stone the multitude of the languages: French, Hebrew, Polish, Italian, pre-1918 old-spelling Russian, English, German. And, engraved in stone, faded letters, forgotten words.

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Gradually, the stones disappear from under the remembering visitors. Down, under the trees, the dazzling blue sea.

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