The ‘Old Jewish Burial Ground’ in Savannah is surrounded by a tall wall outside of old Savannah. My visit to it therefore felt very much like a privileged introduction to a secret location. The cemetery was established in 1773 by Mordecai Sheftall on land given to him by king George III for this purpose in 1762.
Unfortunately, only a few dozen of the gravestones remain (the Sheftall stones among them). In the twentieth century a slum existed outside of the cemetery and many of the bricks and slabs were taken for people’s homes and tables! A plaque now hangs inside the cemetery listing the names of others believed to have been buried there.
While the cemetery is called the ‘Old Jewish Burial Ground’ there is believed to have been an even earlier one in town. That land was granted to the nascent Jewish community at its inception by the founder of the town, James Edward Oglethorpe. A dedication stone now memorializes that earlier burial site.
I thank Phoebe Kerness for taking the time to show me the typically locked cemetery.
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