Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home of Peace Cemetery

Reminded by Oakland Daily Photo of Home of Peace Cemetery in a recent Taphophile Tragics entry, I went and checked it out on Monday. I've ridden past it many times on my way to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, but had never stopped before.

It's much smaller than Mountain View Cemetery or even Saint Mary's Cemetery, and a bit newer, as the land for it wasn't purchased until 1901. At the time, that was still a ways from the city limits, though people were living in nearby areas. Despite its compact size, it's an interesting place, and I'll need to make another visit sometime.

The cemetery is owned by Beth Jacob Congregation, which has been on Park Blvd. since the 1950s. But the original structure for the congregation was in Old Oakland, at 9th and Castro, dating back to the incorporation of the congregation in 1893.

I saw a lot of familiar symbols: ivy (fidelity, eternal friendship), kohanim hands (priestly tribe of Aaron), and even a few Freemason symbols. But I also saw some new symbols, including a water pitcher (a Levite, a person who was responsible for cleaning the hands of the temple priest) and lions (tribe of Judah).

All of the markers had English, but most had some Hebrew text on them as well. A few had Cyrillic (Russian), and one I saw had a quote in Romanian. I also saw a number of them that were fully bilingual—English on one side, Hebrew on the other. While the markers are generally smaller and simpler than those at Mountain View or Saint Mary's, many of them were visually quite striking, using unusual colors of granite or marble, along with a combination of polished and unpolished stone and painted lettering.

One thing I'd never seen before was what appeared to be a small mailbox next to one of the gravestones. It had a glass front so I could see there was something inside, but it wasn't clear what was there. Maybe on my next visit I'll be brave enough to see what's in there.

Lots more pictures:


diane b said...

the headstones all look sparking clean and well maintained. Obviously a big jewish community.

VioletSky said...

I like the mailbox idea - I have seen messages and photos in ziplock bags left by gravesites and this would be a much neater way of leaving them.

Gene said...

All of the Oakland cemeteries are pretty well maintained from what I've seen. One problem at Home of Peace is the gravel they use around the gravestones to keep grass and weeds down. On a few of the markers, there is text written along the bottom edge, which is getting buried as the markers settle and the gravel piles up.

Julie said...

Sorry to be so tardy with my visit this week, Gene. Only just got my connection back at its full speed. I think someone else is using my connection.

I need to write out all the symbols that you have noted, and take a list with me. I get so carried away with the personal history of the deceased when I go to cemeteries here, that I forget to record some of the symbols that are in each cemetery and try to work out what they stand for.

I have two more cemeteries on my list or the next ten days, so hopefully I will be more organised.

We do not have entire sections of cemeteries dedicated to the Jewish deceased, or full of other than the arabic alphabet. Just the odd one or two scattered between the more standard fare.

I love your work and the way you put your slide shows up from Flickr. I have not used Flickr extensively as yet, although my daughter does and swears by it. Saves her so much storage space. Which reminds me, I need a need hard drive for backup.

There is not a lot of gravel used in Australian cemeteries (the ones I have visited at any rate) to keep grass and weeds down. We just tend to put a mower in and train the grass to be shorter and spread more densely and voila - a carpet beneath our feet. That is the theory at any rate.

See you again next week, my newfound friend.