Get involved and join our mission to protect and maintain our historic Jewish cemeteries, creating a roadmap to sustain these sites for future generations.
Who We Are
Philadelphia is home to many historic Jewish cemeteries. Sadly, many of them are in disrepair, with broken and fallen headstones, years of neglect, uneven and unstable ground, overgrowth (e.g., weed trees, vines), and other damage which places them at risk.
The Friends of Jewish Cemeteries (FJC) is a special initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia to address short- and longer-term practical solutions to restore, repair, and research our region’s Jewish cemeteries.
We are a group of volunteers consisting of descendants, community members, and neighbors with a shared passion to come together to explore viable ways to secure these sacred places.
The volunteers build awareness, momentum, and look for ways to ignite short and longer-term approaches. Together they team to shine a light on ways to turn these poor conditions into something better.
- Clean-ups – Cutting down vines, weed trees, weeds, and trash pick-up.
- Pilot programs – Restoring, repairing, and lifting headstones that can weigh 400 to 1200+ pounds with a certified, professional expert.
- Landscaping – Assessing larger scale professional support as well as addressing individual and family locations.
- Research – Supporting the digitization of ~26,000 records/cards at Har Jehuda into a database through the volunteer work of the Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia.
Friends of Jewish Cemeteries undertakes pilot projects to display what is possible and demonstrate a proven track record of delivery including:
- Har Nebo – 2 pilot programs leading to 60 stones restored and conserved.
- Har Jehuda and Har Nebo – Exploring professional landscaping to regain parts of overgrown areas.
The goals of these projects includes:
- Raising awareness of the restoration needs of historic cemeteries.
- Showcasing a road-tested, viable plan to improve conditions.
- Cultivating a fund to support conservation work.
- Inspiring a wider community to pursue similar activities through education about best practices and lessons learned.
Additional pilot programs are in development.
Learn more about these achievements from the Community Reports (right side of page).
Check out this coverage…
- Fox29: Over 100 volunteers gather in Oxford Circle to restore historic cemetery
- Philly Inquirer: Conserving Jewish cemeteries, one stone at a time.
- CBS3: It Was A Little Jarring’: Project At Har Nebo Cemetery Restoring Gravestones And Peace For Loved Ones
- 6ABC: Har Nebo Feature
- Friends of Jewish Cemeteries Completes Second Phase of Restoration Project
- Har Nebo Cemetery Cleanup
- Resting in Dignity: Friends of Jewish Cemeteries Begin Work to Restore At-Risk Cemeteries
- Cemetery Restoration Pilot Project Underway
- Cemeteries Get Creative to Offset Dwindling Business
ABOUT HAR NEBO
Founded in 1890, Har Nebo is the city’s oldest privately owned Jewish cemetery. Covering 28 acres in the Oxford Circle community of Northeast Philadelphia, it is the resting place of nearly 34,000 people and has few burial spaces remaining.
ABOUT HAR JEHUDA
Har Jehuda, located on ~27 acres, was the first Jewish cemetery west of Philadelphia established in the mid-1890s. It was accessible by a trolley car that connected Upper Darby and West Chester to Philadelphia. It was established for the concentrated population of Eastern European Jews in South Philadelphia.
The Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGASGP), in coordination with Har Nebo, completed a valuable resource for genealogists—a comprehensive database of burials, searchable by surname or location. A team of volunteers is working on a Har Jehuda digital project centered around ~26,000 records.
- Support our efforts by making a gift!
- Sign up for a community-wide volunteer cemetery cleanup!
- Stay informed by signing up for our mailing list (submit on the right side of this page)!