Jewish Burials of Macon, GA

Written by Marian Waxelbaum Kaufman & Gus Bernd Kaufman

Copyright 1997

This twenty year old book covers Jewish burial sites in Macon’s Rose Hill Cemetery and other Macon Cemeteries.  It is an important resource to the Macon and Middle Georgia Jewish Community

The book meticulously indexes Jewish Burials and cremations from 1844-1997, or Hebrew dates of 5604-5757. We have included the book’s preface, maps, diagrams, descriptions, and locations of the burial sites for readers’ general reference.

References to Maconite Louis Chanin can be found throughout the burial site descriptions. Chanin was knowledgeable about many Jewish family histories in Middle Georgia and frequently acted as a docent, giving tours of cemeteries for those interested.

Please contact David Frolich of Jewish Federation of Macon and Middle Georgia if you’d like to learn more about individual Jewish burial sites in the area.

A Digital Copy of Jewish Burials of Macon, Ga can be found here.


“This information was gathered as an historical record of the Jewish community of Macon. In addition to recording the information from every gravestone, we have gone through every book of the burial records of the Rose Hill Cemetery, beginning in 1844, and have gone through all the obituaries from the Macon newspapers as recorded in the Washington Memorial Library Genealogical Room. We searched these records for all familiar names and then for all the names that appeared to be Jewish, of which we had now previous Knowledge

The Rose Hill records are particularly interesting. They were recorded by the City Sexton of the period. In addition to the burial date and place in the cemetery, they often list the city or country of birth, the city of the death (and remember, Macon was apparently the only consecrated Jewish ground for about a hundred-mile radius), and the cause of death. The writings and styles of the various sextons over the 156-year period understandably vary. For example, our Jewish burial sites are designated as William Wolff, Hebrew Lot, New Hebrew Lot, Polish Lot, Russian Lot, and Jew Lot. Note the absence of the name Sherah Israel. As Louis Chanin discovered, for most of its existence, Sherah Israel’s burial area was treated as an independent area and many of its burials were not listed.

Disturbing and shocking is the fact that there are no records of any burials of any denomination from 1848 to 1854, and none for the 16 years between 1880 and 1896. One theory for the earlier period is that the sexton was illiterate.

In working these records, we found many burials within designated Jewish burial areas for which there was now stone or marker. We have listed these burials with their information in the appropriate section following the listing of the visible stones.

Rose Hill Cemetery Locations

In addition, we have found many burial records of people know to be Jewish without the section designated. We have listed these.

Further, we found other burials with no burial area designated and no positive Jewish identification, though we thought they were Jewish. We have listed these based on our assumptions from the name, from our knowledge of the families, and from any such information we could gather.

We have listed another group, likewise not identified, taken from the obituaries.

We also have listed burials in Riverside Cemetery, Macon Memorial park, the Old City Cemetery, and unmarked cremations.

We searched for an explanation for the absence of the markers. Rabbis Goren and Rubenstein have explained to us that stillborn infants or early deaths do not usually have any burial ritual which would include markers. The failure to mark many graves of others, juvenile or adult, was possibly from economic hardship and, of course, some stones may have disappeared over the years.

In writing Hebrew dates, the 5000 is left off. Thus, this year, 5757, is written as 757. Though this is general practice, some earlier Rabbis felt it necessary to explain it. Therefore, some of our graves have the Hebrew word, “Lepak,” which means “excluding the thousands.”

We are certain that in compiling this information from many sources and with many speculations that we have made errors. We apologize in advance and hope you will send us the corrections.”


Hebrew Burial Ground of Congregation Beth Israel in Rose Hill Cemetery

“THE HEBREW BURIAL GROUND was purchased from the city in 1844, just four years after Rose Hill was developed. The first burial there was Leopold Bettman who died in August of that year in Perry, Georgia. The second burial was his brother, David Bettman, who died in Hawkinsville, Georgia in October of the same year. In 1859, when Congregation Beth Israel was established, it took over the cemetery. With the opening of William Wolff Cemetery of 1879, the area was not generally used, though there are some graves there into the early 1900s. When William Wolff became the Congregation’s cemetery, some members wanted to move their graves to the new area. It was not permitted.

We also list the large number of unmarked graves in this burial area.

“Enter the main entrance of Rose Hill Cemetery off Riverside Drive. After going through the gates, immediately turn right on Central Avenue Division East. Go straight down the hill (do not take the right fork) until you are just opposite the Confederate burial area which has multiple rows of upright stones. Two brick pillars on your right, with an arched sign, identify the Hebrew Burial Ground

Hebrew Burial Ground of Congregation Beth Israel

Congregation B’Nai Israel

“CONGREGATION B’NAI ISRAEL CEMETERY was established in 1870 apparently by individuals (names unknown) of North German (Prussian/Polish) origin who, we believe, were not pleased with the increasing Reform practices of Beth Israel. We do not know if the Congregation was actually formed or if they held services. In 189, in the minutes of Congregation Beth Israel, it is referred to as the “Polish Cemetery” and the Cemetery Sexton at times so described it. We think the area was abandoned when the Hebrew Aid Society opened its burial area. It lay vine-covered and unknown until Louis Chanin discovered it.

We also list the unmarked graves in this burial area.”

William Wolff Cemetery

WILLIAM WOLFF CEMETERY, facing on Madison Street, was opened in 1879 by Congregation Beth Israel anticipating the need for more space than the HEBREW BURIAL GROUND afforded. The land was bought and given to the Congregation by William Wolff. The minutes state that it shall be called “WILLIAM WOLFF” after the benefactor in perpetuity. Additional land has been added twice.

We also list the unmarked graves in this burial area.”

Detail of William Wolff Cemetery

  • Hebrew Aid Society Deed

  • Hebrew Aid Society Division of Lots

  • Hebrew Aid Society Lots

Hebrew Aid Society

“THE HEBREW AID SOCIETY burial ground was started in 1899 by the newly arriving eastern Europeans. (See copy of deed, page 114.) Congregation Sherah Israel gradually took it over, dividing the lots among the owning families in 1929. (See deed form, page 115.) though these people were the original owners of the cemetery, space was provided for all. In general, it not now used, though some individuals elect to be buried there with their other family members.

We also list the unmarked graves in this burial area”

Congregation Sherah Israel Cemetery

“SHERAH ISRAEL CEMETERY was started in 1923. (See Milton Doctor’s letter, page 135.) the Congregation Gradually took over the adjacent HEBREW AID SOCIETY area and removed the wall separating the two areas. It is still in use.

We also list the unmarked graves in this burial area.”

Letter to Leo Brahn, Sherah Israel Cemetery Chairman

Workman’s Circle, Arbeter Ring Cemetery

“THE WORKMAN’S CIRCLE (THE ARBETER RING) was organized in Macon in the 1920s. We think they purchased the grounds very soon thereafter. The first burial was in 1930.

We also list the unmarked graves in this burial area.”

Sherah Israel Cemetery (New Section)

“SHERAH ISRAEL, New Section, was opened in 1987.”

Other Burials

There are Jewish burials in non-Jewish sections of Rose Hill, and we have included these.

There are Jewish burials which are unmarked and the area is not definite. We have listed these.

There are burials which we thought to be Jewish but are not so identified and the area is unlisted. From a great number of such burials we have carefully chosen these.

There are deaths listed in the newspapers who appear to be Jewish though the information is, again, sometimes vague. We have a list taken from these.

Riverside Cemetery

“RIVERSIDE CEMETERY is a privately owned cemetery facing on Riverside Drive.  It begins at Madison Street across from WILLIAM WOLFF. The office from which you can find grave locations is on the corner.”

Macon Memorial Park

“MACON MEMORIAL PARK, located at 4101 Mercer University Blvd., is a non-denominational burial ground with graves marked by ground-level brass markers. The graves are numbered in orderly rows and all are the same, thus egalitarian. Each has an insert for a flower vase and artificial flowers seem to be the norm.”

Old City Cemetery

“The OLD CITY CEMETERY is between Poplar and Cherry Streets on Seventh Street. It was used by the City prior to 1840 and the use of Rose Hill. There are two burials there that Louis Chanin suggested might be Jewish. We have added others from obituaries.”