When Elmwood Cemetery opened its gates in 1872, two acres on the southwest corner (Block H) were purchased by B’Nai Jehudah Temple for Jewish burials.
Founded in 1870 as Kansas City’s first Jewish congregation, B’Nai Jehudah started with 25 members, most of which were immigrants from Germany. Following the purchase, 37 remains that had previously been interred in a small plot at 18th St. and Lydia Avenue were reinterred inside Block H.
With over 1700 grave sites available, Elmwood would serve as the primary cemetery until 1919, when the Rose Hill Cemetery at 69th St. and Troost Avenue was founded for use by B’Nai Jehudah’s members.
Much like the remainder of the cemetery, markers of all sizes and styles show prominent names of business owners, civic leaders and B’Nai Jehudah founders. Many are inscribed with a combination of English and Hebrew lettering, and Jewish and American symbols. Others denote the country and city of birth, such as the following:
Daniel (1846-1915) and Paulina Sanders (1860-1933). Daniel was born in Sotern, Germany while Paulina was born in Fell.
Rosa Birnbaum (1850-1899), also inscribed as the “Wife of Charles”, was born in Kempen, Prussia, Germany. While “Mother” is inscribed along the top of the marker, Rosa is buried alone, with no other family members nearby.
Ricka Sherman (1832- 1913) was born in Schornweisach, Bavaria (Germany). Her marker also indicates she was the “Beloved wife of David” and died in St. Louis, MO. Ricka is also buried alone, with no other family members nearby.
No obituaries were located for these names. Sometimes only the marker and its inscriptions can tell their story for future generations.