Thursday, August 26, 2010

gone but not fogotten

Being a librarian-historian-archivist-genealogist, I've wandered through my fair share of cemeteries, from tiny plots hidden and forgotten in the woods, to the gorgeously landscaped and historic Mount Auburn Cemetery.  Since I'm descended from a long line of New England ancestors, I'm most familiar with austere Colonial plots with stones set far apart and echoes of our Puritan heritage in the simple carvings.

This week on a drive to Winchester, Massachusetts, I happened on an amazing series of cemeteries in Woburn -- the Woburn Jewish cemeteries.  I confess my utter ignorance of Jewish customs and traditions, but was absolutely transfixed by the beauty and sadness and family and life celebrated there.  It was a gray, rainy day, which added a solemness to the images that a sunny day may have dispelled. 

The first Jewish cemetery, I discovered, was established in East Boston in 1844.  Prior to that time,  no Jewish people were allowed to be buried in Massachusetts.

The stones are nestled right up next to each other, with barely a space between.  They are lined up as far as the eye can see.  It was overwhelming at first.  And then, as I walked among the stones, the individual stories represented there began to emerge.


Stones are left behind as calling cards from visitors.

In the window of the gatehouse there are lists of the names of the people buried there.

The Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts has an amazing database of over 50,000 names that is searchable online.  You can also get more information on Jewish genealogy in Massachusetts through the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston.


  1. Wow, this is so interesting and captured extremely well Lucy! Awesome shots, here I wasn't going to even click on the link, I don't much care for looking at cemeteries but now I'm glad I came over here. I can see the stories unfold through your lens, well done!

  2. Thank you for sharing these images.
    They are incredibly moving.

  3. This is an incredible series of photos lucy!...Keeping them in B&W really kept the cemetery eeriness in them. I love the Jewish tradition of leaving stones on the headstones when visiting a grave...

  4. Stunningly beautiful Luce!!! The nuance of blacks, whites, and greys are very moving. A lovely "memorial" to those gone ahead!

  5. Great photos! You've captured the essence in a very creative way.

    I love cemeteries. In Paris, they have a whole section of Holocaust victims with statues for headers...which are pretty grotesque, but very moving as well!

  6. a stunning series of life lived . this is so well done . elk