Sir Moses Montefiore Cemetery

Sir Moses Montefiore Cemetery was founded in the 1880s by orthodox Jewish immigrants from Russia, whose arrival in the United States at the time marked the third major phase in Jewish community building. These eastern Europeans tended not to assimilate into the German/Reform-oriented congregations established earlier such as Richmond’s Beth Ahabah. So when the new congregation settled into its own quarters in the east end of town, it purchased a cemetery plot on what became Jennie Scher Road (which the city would name after a philanthropic member) on the east side of Gillie Creek.

In 1928, forty years after its opening, the congregation’s cemetery board and chevra kadisha raised a large gateway across its entrance. Today the cemetery holds over one thousand burials, arranged in tight rows terraced up the hillside.

Two other cemeteries reflecting similar immigration patterns adjoin this cemetery. Workmen’s Circle Cemetery (also known as “Workman’s Circle”) was established in 1924. It holds several hundred burials.

Beth Torah cemetery was founded in 1950s by an orthodox congregation in the city which has since closed. Today, Beth Torah cemetery is associated with Richmond’s Kol Emes Congregation.

For more information, see

Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives

Myron Berman, Richmond’s Jewry, 1769-1976: Shabbat in Shockoe (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, 1979)

Herbert T. Ezekiel and Gaston Lichtenstein, The History of the Jews of Richmond From 1769 to 1917 (Richmond, Va.: Herbert T. Ezekiel, 1917)

Chris Dovi, “Life of Devotion,” Style Weekly (August 19, 2009)