01 January 2007

Asia: tracking down Jewish burials

I came across an interesting site for the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia.

The BACSA site offers information about their projects and publishes some 41 books of information and burial records in various locations and various historical periods, including Calcutta, Bencoolen, Penang, Perak, Peshawar, Kanpur, Burma, Kerala, as well as Japan and others.

Only one transcription is online - that of Maymyo - and I discovered one burial of interest:
Maymyo Cemetery Register of European Burials
Revised in 2004 with the assistance of a Grant from BACSA

FRIEDLANDER, Lionel Laroche
Plot C15
Born: 14 June 1882
Died: 11 September 1902

While the others in this cemetery's 44-page document do not appear to be members of the tribe, with the possible exception of a CAHAN, one burial of interest is enough to locate a lost branch.

It is possible that other Jewish individuals are buried in many of the cemeteries covered by the series of books. If there was no Jewish cemetery or organized Jewish community, a person was likely buried in a “European” cemetery.

This occurence is not limited to Asia. When our cousin Dr. Michael (Misha) Talalay of St. Petersburg was researching the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the spa towns of Italy, he located at least one Talalay who had died of tuberculosis when the town in question did not yet have an organized Jewish community.

Misha was quite shocked to see this person's name in the register, even though he was investigating the many Russians (representing all religions) who were visitors at the spa towns. Visits to the spa towns were highly touted by Russian doctors for their patients suffering from a variety of illnesses. Eventually Jewish communities were organized in the larger spa towns providing support services to Jewish patients from Russia and elsewhere.

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