ISJM Vice-President and architect Rachel Frankel has written a short piece about the Jewish cemeteries of Jamaica for the website of the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School. This derives from her paper at last January's conference on Jewish Diaspora in the Caribbean Conference, the proceedings of which will soon be published. Rachel will be leading a small team back to Jamaica this spring to continue cemetery documentation.
Houses of Life: The Jewish Cemeteries of Jamaica
by Rachel Frankel
At the outskirts of Port Royal lies Hunt’s Bay Jewish Cemetery, Jamaica’s oldest burial ground no longer in use today. The cemetery has recently been inventoried and mapped, and is now a Jamaica National Heritage Trust Site. Inventory work continues this month on the Orange Street Jewish Cemetery, Jamaica’s two hundred year old bet haim (“house of life”).
Jamaica’s several Jewish cemeteries, which ring this Caribbean island, are not wholly preserved, accessible, or undisturbed, but they contain over three continuous centuries of gravestone imagery, epitaphic language, genealogy, burial patterns, and cemetery site design. Thanks in part to the United Congregation of Israelites Shaare Shalom Synagogue of Jamaica and Caribbean Volunteer Expeditions, these New World necropolises are undergoing inventory, analysis, and preservation.
Read the entire article here.