In the United States, the European heritage of most American Jews is evident in the Jewish built heritage, particularly in older Jewish cemeteries and synagogues.
The historic Ohabei Shalom Jewish cemetery in East Boston, founded in 1844, is the first Jewish cemetery established in Massachusetts, and the design, decoration, and inscriptions on its gravestones attest to the immigrant history of Jews to the U.S. — but also their acculturation.
As the web site of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts (JCAM), which manages the cemetery, puts it:
The physical design of the Ohabei Shalom Cemetery reflects the immigration patterns of Jews to the United States in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. The Cemetery’s early crowded gravesite configuration, Hebrew inscriptions, and traditional iconography all reflect Jewish burial practices in Europe. The headstones document the many nations from which residents emigrated, including Germany, Poland, and Russia. The gradual disappearance within the Cemetery of traditional Jewish and European-inspired characteristics and their replacement with American funerary styles reflects the assimilation of the Jewish community into the wider society.
JHE director Ruth Ellen Gruber visited the cemetery, which, along with its chapel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and (as she has done at other Jewish cemeteries in the U.S.) took particular note of the epitaphs that include the far-off country of birth of those interred.
Here are images of some of these epitaphs, along with some similar epitaphs found thousands of kilometers away — in the windswept Montefiore Jewish cemetery in Las Vegas, New Mexico, founded in 1881, and the Pioneer Jewish cemetery in Placerville, California, scene of the 1849 Gold Rush, founded in 1854.
One cannot see these graves and read the inscriptions noting the distant place of birth without thinking of the long and probably difficult immigrant journeys that brought these people there.
There’s little if any information on most of the — but see the image below of the gravestone of Samuel Sussman Snow, in Placerville, with a summary of his immigration story and link to the full biography.
Samuel Sussman Snow, the son of a rabbi, was born in 1818 in Demmin, about 200 km north of Berlin, according to the Jewish Museum of the American West.
The JMAW says he came to American in 1836, at the age of 18 and became a naturalized citizen in 1849.
He apparently anglicized his name from the original Snoek or Snook.
Snow studied medicine in France and New York.
He had an extremely adventuresome life as he made his westward from New York — as a doctor, a fur trader in Wisconsin, and a rancher/farmer in Iowa before heading to California as a leader of a wagon train in 1850.
In the gold country, he was a rancher, doctor, shop keeper, and owner of a mine, as well as a leader of the Jewish community.