Cneseth Israel Cemetery

This is what a typical Jewish cemetery looks like in Pittsburgh: straight rows of graves with foot-wide alleys between, each grave given just enough space for the coffin and no more. They look like crowded urban neighborhoods, and they are designed to make the most use of the least space.

For some reason, a large number of Jewish congregations in the city bought land for cemeteries in Reserve and Ross Townships north of the Allegheny. Many of them are not marked on maps, but a satellite view will reveal the distinctive tight rows of graves.

Because of frequent vandalism, many Jewish cemeteries are gated and locked, with “NO TRESPASSING” signs on the gates—a sorry reminder that, even today, it is not always easy being Jewish. This cemetery, however, was open (Father Pitt would never walk past a “NO TRESPASSING” sign without permission of the owners).

This cemetery is notable for the large number of stones with embedded photographs, and for a good number of rustic stumps crowded in with the rest of the monuments.

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