Beth Abraham Cemetery photo exhibit displayed at Carrick Branch Library
The Carrick Overbrook Historical Society, in conjunction with the Carrick Branch Library, 1811 Brownsville Road, is displaying 28 black and white photos of the Beth Abraham Jewish Cemetery by Devon Christopher Adams.
The cemetery is located on Stewart Avenue at the far end of the Carrick and Overbrook neighborhoods. Mr. Adams' photos of the Jewish Cemetery were taken in 2010 and are an example of the cemetery's pathways and the artistic and interesting tombstones in both the newer and much older sections.
The cemetery is largely unknown and a mystery to many local residents who just pass by while negotiating the curve on lower Stewart Avenue.
"The Polish, Romanian, and Spanish Jews all had their own synagogues in the Hill District. The Russian Jews built their Synagogue on Miller Street, it was called Beth Abraham. The Synagogue existed from the 1880s until the 1940s when the Jewish people began to move off the Hill," explains Arlene Adelman, past president of the Beth Abraham Congregation/Cemetery.
"Beth Abraham purchased plots of land next to each other at various times until they have what now exists in Carrick. The cemetery was incorporated in 1889. However, the first burial was actually in 1885. There is a very old baby section where still-borns and infants are buried.
"The cemetery follows the Jewish Orthodox tradition. It does not allow cremations. Approximately one year ago, the congregation handed over the care of the Cemetery to the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association, which now takes care of nine Jewish cemeteries in the area."
Several of the photos illustrate the ancient Jewish tradition of visitors placing small stones on the headstones. A tradition dating back centuries, stones were originally placed on the graves of the deceased to keep wild animals from disturbing the remains. As time passed on, and carved monuments became the preferred memorial, the custom of leaving a small visitation stone became a symbolic gesture–a way for the visitor to say of the loved one, "I remember you…"
The Carrick Overbrook Historical Society and the Carrick Library welcomes everyone to view the exhibition and then visit the cemetery, honoring those interned there. The tombstones are interesting and mysteriously unique to most that are familiar with the many Christian cemeteries in the neighborhoods.