For many years, Omaha had a growing Jewish population. Several congregations were started and institutions were established to serve them. The first Jewish cemetery in the city was established in 1888 in North Omaha. Today it is the eternal home of Mrs. B. (Rose Blumpkin), Sonny Gerber and many other notable Omaha Jews, as well as regular everyday people. This is a history of the Golden Hill Cemetery.
Omaha’s Jewish history starts with the city’s establishment. Early businessmen, salesmen and salvagers, Jewish pioneers in the city grew their ranks and grew their wealth, becoming founders and upstanding citizens. After the first synagogue was established in 1871, it became increasingly obvious that the population needed a cemetery. Forming a burial society soon after, they established a cemetery to provide ritual burial services in 1872.
The land was purchased for $100.
Golden Hill Cemetery was the second Jewish cemetery in Omaha, and it was established by Chevra B’nai Israel Adas Russia in 1888. The first Orthodox synagogue in Omaha, Chevra B’nai Israel Adas Russia was also called the Kippler Shul. The synagogue was located in the original Russian blocks in downtown Omaha and the congregants had heritage distinct from other Jews in the city.
When they started their cemetery, now located at 5025 North 42nd Street, it was on a hilltop in an unbroken prairie near the tiny community of West Saratoga. Located several miles from downtown Omaha, the neighborhood around it did not develop in full until the 1910s.
In June 1914, the Golden Hill Society dedicated a new chapel at the cemetery. The founder and first president of the society, Mrs. I. Pearlman, was the first person to open the building the day it was dedicated. A streetcar line was developed to the neighborhood, then called Central Park, in the 1920s. By then, there was a commercial district nearby, a large elementary school and Christian churches all around.
Today Golden Hill Cemetery is maintained by Beth Israel. There are many notable burials in the cemetery, including Rose Blumkin (1893-1998), Sonny Gerber (1910-1986) and Sam Richman (1895-1976).
There is little acknowledgment of the cemetery’s history today. It hasn’t been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it does not have formal Omaha Landmark status and it is not frequently mentioned in Omaha’s history.
You Might Like…
- A History of the Central Park Neighborhood in North Omaha
- A History of the Intersection of North 42nd and Redman Avenue
MY ARTICLES ABOUT CEMETERIES IN NORTH OMAHA
Cemeteries: Prospect Hill | Potter’s Field | Forest Lawn | Golden Hill
Other: Grave Robbing | Missing Cemeteries | “The Woman in White”
- “Golden Hill Cemetery” from the Graveyards of Omaha website
- “Golden Hill Cemetery” from Findagrave.com
Special thanks to Jody Lovallo for sharing the following pictures of Golden Hill Cemetery.
I grew up four blocks from there. We used to sneak in at night as a dare (1950s). I had no idea it was a Jewish Cemetery. For us kids it was just a place to scare each other.
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I walked past that every morning to school and every afternoon home from school . They had bushes that ran the length of the cemetery and we would run behind the bushes all the way down the hill. Except when there was people there or a funeral was going on. A familiar old site.😍