I’m glad this week that I paid attention to my postal mail. I received a missive from Stanley Barer, president of the Association for the Preservation of Abandoned Jewish Cemeteries in Philadelphia. I had barely remembered the role of Dutch Jews in the early history of Philadelphia. According to the literature, Philadelphia Dutch Jews founded the Ashkenazi synagogue, B'nai Israel Congregation, or the Hollander Synagogue, in 1857.
In the same year, they founded The Hebrew Mutual Burial Society Cemetery in Southwest Philadelphia. The cemetery was abandoned in the 1970s due to the society’s lack of membership and funds, and taken over by the city. For years, residents living near the cemetery complained about the dilapidated conditions, but there were no means for caring for this piece of history.
Now there is a way to honor the memories of the 440 Jews buried at The Hebrew Mutual Burial Society Cemetery and celebrate the history of Dutch Jews in America. In conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and the VAAD, Board of Rabbis, there is now an organized effort to restore and preserve the cemetery.
I encourage you to go to: http://savejewishgraves.org/index.htm to learn more about Dutch Jewish Philadelphia, and the plans for rebuilding this historical landmark.
Rabbi Gary M. Gans
Below are some pictures from the web site:
Photos are by
Community Design Collaborative