War Memorial

The war memorial in the Homestead Hebrew Cemetery (photographed September 2015).

The war memorial in the Homestead Hebrew Cemetery (photographed September 2015).  “Dedicated in memory of those who gave their lives to preserve our country’s liberty and freedom.”

During the January 22, 1956 Chevra Kadisha seudah, the group approved the idea for a war memorial to commemorate the twelve boys connected to the community who died fighting in WWI and WWII:

A motion was passed to hold memorial services at the cemetery on May 30th for all the departed soldiers. A tablet will be provided to hold the names of service men who are buried in government cemeteries. 1

As there are no congregational minutes from this period and the Chevra Kadisha minutes are extremely sparse, there is little else I can relate about the background of this memorial or the timing of when it was erected.  I can tell you that it cost $360 (or $3,143 in 2015 dollars) from the Homestead Monument Works — is that even interesting?  2  I assume these names came from the War Honor Roll plaques, which were presented to the shul at earlier dates.  So, let’s turn to the newspaper for additional information:

Homestead Memorial Service

On Memorial Day, Wednesday afternoon, May 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Homestead Hebrew Congregation Rodef Shalom Cemetery, Homeville, Pa., a tombstone will be dedicated in memory of twelve Jewish servicemen who lived in and near Homestead and gave their lives in active duty during World Wars I and II.

The memorial service is to be conducted in full military fashion, with Leroy Bloom, Commander of Bellefield Post #299 and Leon Weisberg, Chaplain and Past Commander of that post, Jewish War Veterans, participating in the service. A color guard of JWV Post #49 will be present, and taps will be sounded to conclude the service.

“Ale Molay Ra-Chamim,” traditional prayer for the dead, will be chanted by Cantor William Hofstadter of Shaare Torah Synagogue. Rabbi Jack Segal, Rabbi of the Homestead Hebrew Congregation, will speak on “They Gave Everything.”

The entire community is invited to attend.

The Jewish Criterion, 5/18/1956

***

Dick Silk, a Vietnam vet, plants flag in the cemetery before Memorial Day 2016.

Dick Silk, a Vietnam vet, plants flag in the cemetery before Memorial Day 2016.

The graves of servicemen are marked in the cemetery — sometimes on the stone itself, more often by a flag folder planted in the ground.  Once a year before Memorial Day volunteers go out to the cemetery to replace the old flags with new ones.  In recent years Allen Smooke and Dick Silk shared this responsibility, then it was just Dick.  I was honored to be able to help out for the first time in 2016.  Please contact me if you’d like to volunteer in the future.  Thanks!


  1. Box 3, Folder 3, p. 167.  Though only one of these boys is buried in this cemetery, not all are in government cemeteries, either  The list at the end of this post summarizes what I’ve been able to find.  

  2. Box 13, Cemetery Ledger 1945-1959, p. 165  

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