Tracking Jewish History Through Headstones in New Jersey


My nephew is majoring in history in college and I always enjoy hearing him talk about the various subjects he is studying because he possesses such enthusiasm for every aspect and era of history. I especially love when he enlists me in some capacity in his work, whether it is to visit a library in some out-of-the way little burg or visit a historical site, I thoroughly enjoy my time with him. Most recently he asked if I would accompany him across the state line to do rubbings on Jewish gravestones in NJ.

I was always up for a road trip and packed a little bag as I know when engrossed in a project, time passes very quickly and more often than not, my nephew and I have been surprised to find that we have spent many more hours doing a project than we had originally anticipated and should have planned to stay the night when traveling.

I have to admit, doing gravestone rubbings was one of my favorite things to do with my nephew and the history we had already uncovered while looking for civil war era headstones was truly amazing. While my nephew’s parents weren’t particularly keen on spending hours in a cemetery, I found many of the sites we had visited in the past absolutely beautiful.

While my nephew and I are always very respectful when we do our rubbings, we realize not everyone has been as careful so half the battle of doing this project is making certain we have permission to capture the rubbings in the first place. We also carry a digital camera just in case the rubbings are not allowed or placement of the headstone would make the job impossible to do without disturbing the surrounding area. We treat each headstone as if it belonged to a member of our own family.