The project was carried out by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland’s Commission on Cemetery Preservation. The Federation staff person coordinating the project is Susan Hyman and she will be the speaker at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland on Wednesday, May 5.
The program begins at 7.30pm, at Menorah Park, 27100 Cedar Road, Beachwood, Ohio.
The topic is “Using 21st Century Technology To Find Your 19th Century Ancestors - Jewish Cleveland’s New Cemetery Database.”
She has been, since 2007, the Federation's Information and Referral Specialist in the Community Planning, Allocations and Community Services Department. In addition to helping those affected by the economic downturn, sharing information about community programs and services, her portfolio includes cemetery preservation and other areas as well.
On March 13, a story - "A new database helps Jewish families find graves of ancestors" - by Grant Segall appeared on Cleveland.com detailing the project and successes.
According to the story, genealogists in Cleveland and elsewhere are networking via computers to share and collaborate on family history.
A California woman slogged through Cleveland snow this month and found more than 50 family graves.
In a way, the snow helped. Ricki Lee Davis Gafter of San Jose used handfuls to moisten headstones and make the letters stand out in her photos.
Gafter got much more help from a new database compiled by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland's Commission on Cemetery Preservation. A dozen volunteers, some of them from the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland, spent about six years compiling some 71,000 records of burials in 14 Jewish cemeteries and in Jewish sections at two other cemeteries.
"It's been really helpful," said Gafter, who spent a few days here in her hometown visiting the living and finding the dead. "My family came to Cleveland in the late 1800s, and no one knew where everyone is. There was no record."
Using the database, she discovered not just stones but facts. "I just found my great great-grandma, who I didn't even know had made it to the U.S. Now I know who paid for her plot."While some area Jewish cemeteries are professionally staffed, others are run by volunteers and there are no burial lists.
The project brought together data from cemeteries, synagogues and other sources. In one example, someone had filled a scrapbook with Jewish obituaries.
There are some estimated 85,000 area plots, so the 71,000 records in the database offer a good sense of history. Volunteers will continue to expand and update it, and it is expected to be online in a few months.
If your family comes from the Cleveland area and you'd like more information, email Hyman.