Hebrew Rest Cemetery, just off of Elysian Fields Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard.
Hebrew Rest Cemetery
This aerial shot of Gentilly captures both sections of Hebrew Rest Cemetery. Latter and Blum commissioned this aerial set. The set documents the development of shopping centers running from Frenchmen Street to Elysian Fields Avenue in 1961. Hebrew Rest Cemetery predates those shopping centers by 100 years.
Jewish congregations formed in New Orleans in the 1820s. By the 1840s, those congregations built cemeteries. They started at the end of Canal Street. As the city grew, more cemeteries were needed. Additionally, diseases like Yellow Fever struck New Orleans. In 1860, the city’s oldest congregation, Shangari Chasset, acquired land n Gentilly for a cemetery.
Reform Jews in New Orleans formed Congregation Temple Sinai in 1870. Shangari Chasset turned over all of their cemetery properties to Temple Sinai two years later.
The congregation re-organized the Gentilly cemetery in 1872. They formed a separate corporation, the Hebrew Rest Cemetery Association. This separated the cemetery from a single congregation. In 1892, the Association purchased the land in Gentilly. So, they built Hebrew Rest #2. They constructed a third expansion in 1935.
Jewish tradition calls for in-ground burials. While we think of New Orleans cemeteries and their above-ground tombs, the city’s Jews weren’t the only ones who dug graves. So, a walk through St. Patrick Cemetery No 1, on Canal Street, reveals a number of in-ground graves. These graves are actually “copings.” Rather than simply a hole in the ground, a concrete frame surrounds a coping. Dirt fills the frame. So, the coping is an in-ground burial, but raised by a foot or two. This addresses concerns that the city’s high water table might push a coffin out of the ground.
Hebrew Rest sits on the Gentilly Ridge, one of the highest points in New Orleans.