Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday and Genealogy Serendipity

Last month, my husband and I decided to fulfill one of my own longtime Find A Grave photo requests and we drove to a group of Jewish cemeteries in West Springfield, Massachusetts from our home in eastern Massachusetts.

I knew that Great Uncle Eddie Levitt and wife, Great Aunt Adele (Reisner) Levitt were buried in Beth El Cemetery in West Springfield. The Find A Grave page for Beth El Cemetery includes a map which notes that there are four Jewish cemeteries on Kings Highway in West Springfield: Beth El (in two sections), B'nai Jacob, Kodimoh, and Beth Israel.

I parked my car in a rather central location near a small building, and a man approached asking if he could help us. It turned out he worked for a vault company and was there to prepare a vault and assist with a burial later in the day.

Well, I explained about Find A Grave and that we were looking for the gravestones for Edward and Adele Levitt and he was the one to walk ahead and let us know where it was.


This stone happens to have the English on one side and the Hebrew on the other.

As I walked through Beth El, Kodimoh, and B'nai Jacob taking pictures of stones to fulfill other Find A Grave requests, my husband learned quite a bit about the burial vault business from the man who helped us find the Levitt stone. Because he has worked for this vault company for several years, he was familiar with many cemeteries from western Massachusetts down into Connecticut.

In addition to looking for names from the Find A Grave photo requests, I was also looking for additional Reisner siblings because I knew this branch of the family had settled in the Springfield area. I found Samuel, who is a brother of Adele, who is buried with his wife.

Well, it was early spring and rather chilly, so we decided it was time to get back to the car and go find some place to eat lunch. I did manage to fulfill several Find A Grave photos requests, so I felt this was a successful trip, although I had really hoped to find the gravestone for the parents of Adele and Samuel.

Here is the genealogy serendipity part: taking a last look before getting into the car, I saw it: the gravestone for Rebecca (Levitt) Reisner and Jacob Reisner. We had parked just a couple of car lengths away from this stone.

Jacob and Rebecca are buried in B'nai Jacob Cemetery (though it is hard to tell where Beth El ends and B'nai Jacob begins). And nearby is a small in-ground stone of another of their sons, Joseph.

Thank you to the man who not only helped us find the Levitt stone, but helped explain the borders of each of these cemeteries because there is no delineation, and also kept my husband entertained while I explored the cemeteries looking for the Find A Grave requests.


  1. Congratulations on your find.

    I noticed that in the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry, that someone has documented most graves in West Springfield,MA but did not take any photos. Next time you plan a trip out there, you might consider selecting a plot (or two) and taking photos of all the graves in the plot for submission to JOWBR.

    1. I will explore the JOWBR page on JewishGen about providing cemetery information, but since I live much closer to Boston, I would more likely do this for one of the Jewish cemeteries in West Roxbury.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.