JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Jewish cemeteries #general
Many of you who saw the long article entitled "The Cemetery Nobody
Wants" in The Jewish Week of October 18, 2002 have publicly expressed
your shock and dismay at the condition of Bayside Cemetery in Ozone
Park, Queens. My reaction was to feel even more commitment to the
burial registry project, JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry
(JOWBR), as Bayside is not unique. There are many abandoned Jewish
cemeteries in U.S. communities which no longer have any living Jews.
These once thriving communities are now history, but the cemeteries
remain, abandoned and forlorn. They are as worthy of our attention
as the cemeteries in eastern and central Europe. However, no one
seems to care--not Jewish state historical societies, not the
descendants of the original settlers, not Jewish genealogists in
The Jewish Week article quoted Allan Jordan about his reactions to
Bayside, but I want to tell another aspect of Allan. Two years ago he
volunteered to coordinate the indexing of burial records of the
Kurlander landsmanschaft plots on the East Coast, but his progress
has been slow. He has been frustrated and discouraged as few people
volunteered to help. So what hope can we have to index all the
burials in cemeteries like Bayside?
One would hope that members of the Early American SIG would take an
interest in abandoned U.S. cemeteries and create projects to index
these tombstones. One would hope that volunteers >from other SIGs
will step forward to help all over the U.S. in photographing and
indexing the records of local cemeteries, many of which are rich in
historical detail about landsmanschaftn and our ancestors. There are
a few people, whose names I will not mention here, who have been
active in indexing cemeteries and landsmanschaft plots and donating
their data to JOWBR. We need hundreds more dedicated to this task.
Please see http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Cemetery/ . If you have
any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
JewishGen VP, Research