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Hebrew Cemetery

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Notice: Annual Spring Cleanup
All grave decorations will be removed and discarded on March 1, 2018 to include the following items:
  • All figurines, floral arrangements and lawn flags
  • Objects on easels, stands or poles
  • All memorial stones or rocks
  • Containers that may, in any way, deter normal mowing and trimming operations
  • Any item not specifically designed and manufactured to be inserted and displayed in a cemetery-approved container
Only those flora tributes appropriate to the spring and summer seasons and in cemetery-approved containers will remain. Anyone wishing to save their arrangements should remove them before March 1. 

History

The year 1787 marks the settlement of Norfolk’s two earliest Jewish residents: Moses Myers, who prospered and erected the handsome Georgian home which is now owned by the Chrysler Museum of Art, and Revolutionary War veteran, Philip Moses Russell, a sojourner, who subsequently moved to Richmond, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. As with most pioneer Jewish communities in America, the first act of formal organization was the establishment of the Jewish cemetery. In 1819 following the death of a young bachelor, Solomon Nones, Norfolk’s first Jewish cemetery was established on Washington Powder Point, a section of Berkley at the confluence of the southern and eastern branches of the Elizabeth River. With the arrival of German Jews in the 1840s it was decided that another Jewish cemetery should be established. So in 1850, prominent Jewish families purchased a rectangular plot fronting 55 feet on Princess Anne Road and extending northeastward for approximately 400 feet. At some point, the surviving graves from the Powder Point Cemetery were transferred to this plot. Thus Hebrew Cemetery was established.

Since 1848, the Jewish community had been meeting for worship as Congregation House of Jacob, and established a school for children known as the Norfolk Hebrew and English Literary Institute. A synagogue was erected in 1859. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the community reorganized itself with a new charter as Congregation Ohef Sholom. In 1867, the surviving trustees of the cemetery property turned it over to the trustees of the newly reorganized congregation. Unfortunately, within three years, the congregation suffered an ideological split over attempts to modernize and reform the ritual. Congregation Beth El was created during this time and the property was conveyed to them. A ghoulish scandal ensued: members of one congregation endeavored to block burials of the members of the other, and at least one midnight burial took place.

The conflict was resolved by the creation of The Hebrew Cemetery Company, a corporation chartered by the Circuit Court of Norfolk in 1880. This arrangement lasted until 1957 when the City of Norfolk, by ordinance, agreed to add Hebrew Cemetery to its roster of municipally maintained burial grounds.

Hebrew Cemetery has a variety of lots and single graves available for purchase. The cemetery records are maintained at Elmwood Cemetery. 


Aerial Photograph & Map


Interment Information Online
The Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries' interment database is now available online via WebCemeteries.com. The Bureau's database does not include obituaries or monument photographs.  USGenWeb Archives, a cooperative network of volunteers that provides genealogical information on the internet, provides many of these in its interment catalog of Hebrew Cemetery.  If you cannot locate an interment, please call 757-441-2654 or email for more information. 

Cemetery Events, Volunteer Opportunities, Conservation Information
Click here for information about Norfolk Historic Cemeteries events, volunteer opportunities, and conservation information.