Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Please Explore this Abandoned Jewish Cemetery!

Over the past few years, I have written in my Cemetery Traveler blog about a formerly abandoned Jewish cemetery in the woods of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania (this is a northwestern suburb of Philadelphia). The location and status of the graveyard (which was active from about 1860 to 1945) has perplexed people for years. Simply finding it has been the biggest challenge for most people. After you see the eighteen acres of hills and valleys peppered with thousands of old gravestones, monuments, and rusty fencing, you cannot help but wonder, “What’s the story here?

Unusual zinc ("white bronze") cradle crave marker

Well, this weekend you have an opportunity to find out! Gladwyne’s Beth David Reform Congregation, the current owners of what is known as Har Ha Zetim Cemetery, will provide a tour and information session. If you’re curious, please come by! I will be attending. If you’d like to help at some point in the future, that’s even better. Here is Beth David's announcement:

Sunday in the Cemetery
Sunday, Oct. 25th, 2015
2 - 4 pm

This unique behind-the-scenes tour will provide insight into the historical, cultural, and spiritual significance of the Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery as well as the complex tasks involved in transforming this formerly abandoned site into a woodland memorial park.  Led by a group of local experts, we'll discuss a variety of topics relevant to the cemetery's revitalization including headstone restoration, gravestone mapping and database creation, and restoring the cemetery's rich forest ecology. Guides include Rachel Wolgemuth, historian and database manager at West Laurel Hill, Carol Yaster, President of the Board of the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, Scott Quitel, ecologist and Founder of LandHealth Institute, and Bill Doran, superintendent of Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Meet in the parking lot of Beth David Reform Congregation by 2 pm. We will walk over to the cemetery via the Bridlewild trail and Conshohocken State Road to experience first-hand current state of cemetery access. Alternatively, vehicles will be available to shuttle participants to the cemetery. After the tour, please join us for afternoon tea in Beth David's living room for an informal question and answer session. Here you can view the master plan for the cemetery and find out how you can get involved.  

To register, please email Jill Cooper at jcooper@bdavid.org.

 Beth David Reform Congregation 
1130 Vaughan Lane
Gladwyne, PA  19035

Veteran's grave at Har Ha Zetim Cemetery

Another good reason to stop by is that the foliage is beginning to die off so you will get a better appreciation for the expansiveness of the cemetery, and the work that has been accomplished by volunteers. Invasive foliage as been cleared and paths have been laid out. For more information on Beth David Reform Congregation in Gladwyne, PA, please see website:  http://www.bdavid.org/ 

Same graves in fall and winter

For some background, here are the three blogs I’ve previously posted on Har Ha Zetim Cemetery: 

May 15, 2015
A New Era for Abandoned Jewish Cemetery

 March 9, 2014
Graves Beneath the Snow

 April 6, 2012
Passover and Gladwyne's Abandoned Jewish Cemetery