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.