Sunday, November 12, 2017

USA: War Memorial in Cincinnati's Walnut Hills Jewish Cemetery

Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. War Memorial in first erected in 1868 and subsequently expanded. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. Plaque on War Memorial commemorating Lieutenant Louis Reitler who was killed in battle. This plaque appears to replace an earlier one in the same location. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. Plaque on War Memorial. Left plaque lists six additional names of Civil War veterans. Right plaque commemorates those who died in World War II. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. Plaque commemorates those who died in World War II. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
USA: War Memorial in Cincinnati's Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery
by Samuel D. Gruber

The Walnut Hills Jewish Cemetery is at 3400 Montgomery Road Evanston, a neighborhood of Cincinnati, was founded  in the mid-19th-century and developed through subsequent decades as a quintessential English landscape-park type of cemetery. Consecrated in 1850, when it received its first burial, it was apparently only fully opened by members of Bene Israel and B'nai Jeshurun congregations in 1862 [n.b. am still looking for full and reliable history of the cemetery]

The cemetery contains Cincinnati's Jewish Civil War Memorial (Section 3, Lot 71, Grave 5), originally dedicated in 1868 to honor Lieutenant Louis Reitler (or Reiter), who served with the 37th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Companies F and H. He enlisted as a Private and was ranked as a 1st Lieutenant when he was killed in battle in 1862 at the age of 20. 

Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. War Memorial in first erected in 1868 and subsequently expanded. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. War Memorial in first erected in 1868 and subsequently expanded. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
This first monument appears to be the still-extant central obelisk of what is now a more expansive war memorial, which has been expanded to honor veterans of other wars. The United Jewish Cemetery rededicated the Memorial on Memorial Day 2008.

Several bronze plaques are now affixed to the base of the obelisk and the graves of veterans, all with similar headstones, are clustered in six groups of three on one side of the obelisk. Possibly the present appearance of the memorial dates from the 2008 re-dedication. 

While there are other (later) monuments and memorials to earlier Jewish war dead elsewhere in America, such as those commemorating Revolutionary War victim Francis Salvador in Charleston, SC., and there are war memorials in Jewish cemeteries across America, this one in the Walnut Hills Cemetery is the oldest and most formal of those I have seen. Is it the first? I invite readers to write in and send pictures of examples from of towns and cities.

Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. War Memorial in first erected in 1868 and subsequently expanded. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery.  Right plaque lists six additional names of Civil War veterans. Left plaque commemorates those who died in World War I. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. Pplaque commemorates those who died in World War I. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio. Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery. Veterans graves by war War Memorial. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
The cemetery is also the site of the grave of David Urbansky (or Orbansky), a Civil War hero who was the first Jew to be awarded a Medal of Honor. This is located separately. Urbansky's remains were moved here to be by his widow, who has moved to Cincinnati.