5/30/2005

Beth Jacob Cemetery
  • update...July 17, 2005 - right here.
  • update...June 3, 2005
I met with two officials from the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo this morning, Charlotte Gendler and Daniel Kantor. They assured me that they have contracted with a local landscaper to properly maintain the site. Like many property owners in heavily blighted areas of the Fillmore District both Charlotte and Daniel are very frustrated with the issues of vandalism. Charlotte gave me a book, From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo by Selig Adler as a gift. I also learned that the archives of the various Schuls that prospered here in Buffalo are now housed in the Butler Library at Buffalo State College.
_________________
While checking on the city of Buffalo owned house located at 319 Koons Avenue this past week, which is still wide open, I walked north on Koons Avenue and explored an abandoned cemetery at the end of Landsdale Place. I'd never seen this cemetery before. It's adjacent to Concordia Cemetery. Check out the satellite image on this map to orient your self to the location.
Beth Jacob Cemetery
click to enlarge
Most of the grave stones have been vandalized and toppled. If the sun hadn't been brilliant that afternoon I'm sure I'd have come home later and pulled Sarte or a collection of essays by Camus and a bottle of vodka off the shelf before sinking into a depressive state.
Beth Jacob Cemetery Beth Jacob Cemetery
click to enlarge
The Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo claims responsibility for this cemetery yet it appears as though no maintenance or care has been done in years.
__________________________________________________________________________
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006

8 comments:

craig said...

Cool! I'll definitely have to check this out next time I'm in town.

I remember an article in the Buffalo paper several years ago about a small, almost unknown cemetery in Buffalo, but I don't know if it's the same one.

fix buffalo said...

I spoke with the a representative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo this afternoon. I'm meeting with her on Friday to find out more about their plans for "Beth Jacob." These are the same people who run the JCC on Delaware & Summer. Great place where I should probably start working out again...

Will keep you posted about the cemetery, not my work-outs!

Anonymous said...

There's more on Beth Jacob here:

http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showgallery.php?si=beth+jacob&x=0&y=0&limit=

From the message board:

" This was the cemetery of Temple Beth David, also known as the Clinton Street Shul, which disbanded in the 1940s or 1950s. The neighborhood was never home to a Jewish population; the cemetery was started decades ago, when its location was considered far out in the country. The last burial took place in 1970."

There's an even lesser known Jewish cemetery on Fillmore Avenue, the Jacobsonian Society Cemetery, just south of Genesee Street. It's not marked, and only a few are buried there. It's supposed to be fenced off, but I don't know if anything remains of it.

fix buffalo said...

Anon,

Thanks for the tip about the "Jacobsohn" Cemetery. According to the Selig book - see update in post - the cemetery was located "...72 feet south of Fillmore & Sycamore, running south along the east line of Fillmore about 50 feet and then east in line parallel with the north line of Broadway to the west line of Mills St.' (P.418)

The cogregation of Beth Zion, later Temple Beth Zion took possesion of the cemetary in 1868, moved graves to the cemetery on Pine Ridge. The land was then sold to a private individual in 1907.

I went to the location on Saturday and didn't notice a trace of this cemetery.

Here's the google map satellite link to see the location.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=buffalo+ny&ll=42.897760,-78.839124&spn=0.005997,0.009109&t=k&hl=en
This image is centered on the intersection of Fillmore and Sycamore.

The Tansformation Church is located near here and its former school (shown in black) now owned by an islamic organization. Next door is the now defunct K-mart.

Thanks for your interest. Hope this helps.

Celia said...

This is/was an amazing cemetery. I visited it a few times as a child. Last time I went, about 8 years ago, my friend and I found a dead dog lying in the open, and soon met the owner of said dog, who lived down the street. He'd just lay the dog there when it died. This would definitely confirm that little or no maintenance is happening there.

I got such a deep feeling of history and emotion at that place. But don't feel very comfortable visiting now.

fix buffalo said...

Cella,

Thanks for visiting this blog...

The cemetery today has an ethereal quality to it...forgotten mostly as these people were once so central in someone's life...

Walking thru the gates leaves me with feeling that this is just what happens ...when a city shrinks and people move to places where the economy is vibrant.

I often feel more like an archeologist than a preservationist when I lift the shroud and discover these gems in the 'hood.

Visit the blog again...I don't know what you may discover next...

Dan said...

Hopefully, you left a few stones or pebbles on some markers. It's a Jewish custom.

It's also a custom to wash your hands when you leave a Jewish cemetery, to symbolically remove the air of death. Most Jewish cemeteries have small water fountains located at the entrance so visitors can wash as they leave; the one at Beth Jacob is missing.

The large brick factory building next to the cemetery, in any other city, would have been restored and reused for expensive loft apartments. In Buffalo's most notorious neighborhood, though, such a reuse is unlikely. Sad.

Anonymous said...

the large brick factory is still a functioning enterprise...one of the few still left in the city..it is a bedding factory still in production. We have come over from Concordia and have attempted to mow parts of Beth Jacobs, it is however,not as secure as Concordia due to the fence failure on the Railroad side