Saturday, August 16, 2008
Old Jewish Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio
After a few people at work asked me about my blog, I invited them along on a lunchtime trip to find Cincinnati's Old Jewish Cemetery. There isn't a lot of readily available information to be found online, and I was not able to locate the organization or person/people who takes care of it.
We found it just a few minutes from our office building, right on a corner near Music Hall. It is a small cemetery with nice, intact tombstones and is well taken care of. The ivy is trimmed, the grass is cut and there is a padlock on the fence to prevent vandalism. Unfortunately, at least one Jewish cemetery in the area has already been damaged. It would be terrible if this historic set of stones suffered the same fate.
According to one source, this cemetery contains the remains of people buried during the cholera epidemic and was closed to burials shortly thereafter. It is the oldest Jewish cemetery west of the Alleghenies. It is also unusual in that it is one of only a handful (as far as I can tell) of cemeteries located in downtown Cincinnati.
I do not know Hebrew, though after visiting I became very interested in learning the basics. I found a very handy site about reading Jewish tombstones. I would like to take a closer look at the photos I took, but for now I only know that the inscription at the top of the darker stone in this photo means "Here lies". The site I am referring to also explains numerals, so I hope to match up the dates with the time of the cholera epidemic in Cincinnati in 1832 and 1833. I wonder if most of the stones are from that time, or if the epidemic simply contributed to its becoming full and therefore closed to new burials.
In any case, this was a nice little find for a Friday afternoon lunch break. I hope to find who cares for the plot and seek permission to go inside the gates. If anyone knows any information, please let me know.