Sunday, March 29, 2009

Only Jewish Military Cemetery Outside Israel

By: Ann Rabinowitz

 Courtesy of the Hebrew Cemetery Company of Richmond, VA
The Florida Atlantic University’s Fraiberg Judaica Collection has an on-line presence which incorporates Seymour "Sy" Brody's Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America Exhibits which number about twelve different databases.  These databases focus on the military participation of American Jews.  The latest exhibit provides information on the Hebrew Confederate Cemetery or Soldiers Section in Richmond, VA, which is the only Jewish military cemetery outside Israel.  The exhibit can be viewed online by clicking here.
The Hebrew Confederate Cemetery contains the remains of soldiers who fought in the American Civil War during the battles of Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862), Chancellorsville (April 30-May 6, 1863), and the Wilderness (May 5-7, 1864).  The cemetery is a testament to the anti-Semitism which caused the authorities of the military cemeteries at Spotsylvania Court House and Fredericksburg to deny Jewish burials to soldiers killed in battle.  After the refusal to bury was received, the bodies were brought to the Hebrew Cemetery in Richmond, VA, which established a separate plot or Hebrew Confederate Cemetery within its boundaries. 

The soldiers buried in Richmond were from a number of southern states which included:  Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.  Though only containing thirty burials of Confederate Jewish soldiers, the larger cemetery within which the Confederate burials lie accommodates five more soldiers who were buried in their family plots.

The cemetery founded in 1816 is located at Shockoe Hill at Fourth and Hospital Streets in Richmond, VA and has been maintained since 1888 by Congregation Beth Ahabah, one of the oldest synagogues in Richmond.  You can read more about the cemetery by clicking here.
For those researching their relatives who fought in the Confederacy, this is an interesting exhibit where you may find that missing relative who you could not find in any other place.  It is well-worth a visit as well as the other exhibits prepared by Mr. Brody.

2 comments:

  1. As an addendum, Yaacov Slizak, Ennis Ireland, posted to the JewishGen digest, 5/30/2010, that there is another Jewish military cemetery which is part of Weissensee Cemetery in the outskirts of Berlin that is set aside as a memorial park with a monumental altar designed by Alexander Beer, where the remains of more than 12,000 German Jewish soldiers who had fought in World War I are buried. Dedicated in 1927, the memorial was initiated by the National Association of Jewish combat Soldiers (Reichsbund jidischer Frontsoldaten). In
    addition, the gravestones of an abandoned Jewish cemetery in the Kvpenick district were brought to Weissensee in 1961.

    (source: Jewish Community of Berlin, http://www.jg-berlin.org/en/judaism/cemeteries/weissensee.html)

    He visited the cemetery a couple of years ago, and some of the pictures (including the Jewish Combat Soldiers area) can be seen at:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/yslizak/WeiEnseeJewishCemetery#

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  2. another interesting link:http://www.fau.edu/library/confederate_cemetery.htm

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