Included below is a
list of more than two hundred shtetls, towns and cities, as well
as a small
number of other
organizations, that are associated with various society burial plots located
in more than thirty Jewish cemeteries in the New York and New Jersey area.
Most of these plots of land were bought between by various organizations or
societies that were
originally formed in a particular town in Europe. These societies, known as
"landsmanshaftn," would tend to the needs of it members who were inhabitants
of that town or region. One function that these societies performed
was to provide for the member's burial. These landsmanshaftn often extended
outside of Europe, most often to the United States, and especially to the New York
metropolitan area, where most of the immigrants initially settled once they
passed successfully through the screening process at Castle Garden or Ellis
Island. Here in the United States, the societies would serve a similar need, and also
provide a way via monthly meetings for its 'landsleit' to socialize, and
perhaps hear of news from their hometown from recently-arrived immigrants,
or from other members who received letters and photographs from their
Though most of the plots of land were bought by landsmanshaftn, mostly
between the 1880s and the early 1920s, many were purchased by various synagogues, labor unions, fraternal orders, and other society
types. Some plots were not owned by one organization alone, but were either co-owned by different societies,
associated with the same location within countries such as Poland, or with a
different location entirely (the names listed in this exhibition are
associated with plots associated with today's Poland unless otherwise
indicated.) Some burial plots were originally bought by a
particular landsmanshaft or synagogue, and after a number of years were
taken over by an entirely different society that was not connected in any
way to the original society. This happened most often in later years when
societies began to lose members, and financial conditions forced societies to merge.
Also, many landsmanshaftn societies became defunct, beginning in the 1960s,
because of this.
For the vast majority of shtetls, towns and cities listed below, every
society plot has been properly photographed and databased. This list of more
than 105,000 names is available only through the Museum of Family
any of the underlined names below, and you will be taken to the web page that lists
all the unique surnames of all those who are buried within the plots specified.
The lists will only tell you if someone with that surname is buried in a
plot associated, e.g. with a particular town in Europe. Feel free to contact
the Museum at
firstname.lastname@example.org if you find a surname in a
particular list that you are especially interested in.
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