Photos: Belz Bessarabian Sick Beneficial Association section at Har Nebo Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania #usa #photographs

Mitchell Collier

The Belz Bessarabian Sick Beneficial Association section at Har Nebo Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has an extraordinary limestone arch and fence to set off the section.

The name of the association is engraved across the arch [as Belz Besarabian, one S], there is a Star of David and, perhaps, founding information in the crest at the top of the arch; and there is Hebrew or Yiddish writing on a pillar at the far left end of the limestone fence.

When we last visited the cemetery in 2007, all of this was legible.

I visited again this week and discovered that much of the text on the arch has been washed away by acid rain and pollution.


A lesson to be learned is that all graves and memorials should be thoroughly documented by photographs and those photographs should be widely shared.


The Har Nebo Cemetery grounds suffered from neglect this past year due to the pandemic, but, I was pleased to see that the grass has now been cut.

In the case of the Belz arch and fence, it is now covered with two types of ivy that will probably further break down the limestone.

Someone with knowledge of how to safely remove the ivy should do so with care.


By the way, there are arches for several other burial/beneficial associations at Har Nebo.


A few photos are attached.


Mitchell Collier


In 2020, the inscription is illegible.



Text on the tall pillar at far-left side of limestone fence.


 Mitchell Collier



Harry Boonin

Har Nebo and Mitchell Collier, yes Mitch you are correct. The old cemetery looks old, not decayed, but decaying. You have come across a process, not an end. You have come across the remains of Shakespeare’s “Bare ruin’d choirs.” And you have described the Cemetery in your narrative and photos too well. But the old cemetery has a good memory. Let’s go back to its youth, when it was time to bury one of the most beloved rabbis in Philadelphia Jewry, Rabbi Abraham H. Erschler who died in 1910, and was brought from the Jewish quarter, accompanied by 5,000 mourners crowded into this little, but growing cemetery. Or four years later when Anshe Shavel shul buried its 30 burnt Torah’s and buried them beside Rabbi Erschler. Let’s read about these days, in the Jewish Daily Forward, November 20, 1910, written by Abraham Cahan, or four years later by Philadelphia newspapers, Jewish Exponent, November 25, 1910, or November 21, or the Record, Nov 23, 1914 (front page), etc. Harry D. Boonin