Over 260 Cemeteries Within ONE Cemetery

jewish waldheimfixed

Of all the Chicago area cemeteries that I have researched in the last twenty-five years, Jewish Waldheim in Forest Park, a suburb west of Chicago,  has proven to be the most fascinating and complex. Whether or not you  are Jewish,   I promise that this will be a fascinating topic.

The people buried here, for the most part, represent the amazing and touching stories of Jewish emigrants who discovered the old Maxwell Street neighborhood as a gateway to a new world of freedom and unlimited opportunity. Chicago once had the third largest Jewish population of any city in the world. By 1930 there were 300,000 Jews representing 9% of the  population. They came primarily from Germany, Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe to seek a better life.

Jewish Waldheim  became one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world,  a patchwork of over 260 separate cemeteries within one large complex with different owners, rules, regulations, prices and appearance. There are now over 175,000 burials, possibly approaching 200,000.


Their first synagogue was on the southwest corner of Lake and Wells. In 1846 they formed a Jewish burial society and bought land for their first cemetery within Lincoln Park on Chicago’s lakefront for $46. When the city banned further burials, they reached out to 350 acres of farmland in what today is Forest Park, some 9 miles west of Chicago.  In 1870, town founder Ferdinand Haase sold land to the Free Sons of Israel for a cemetery. Soon many others followed.

Typically men from the same European town or synagogue formed  benevolent and social societies called landsmanshaften. Nationwide there were about 50-60 national or regional organizations with some twenty million members, most providing medical and burial benefits.  These organizations were important havens of help, safety and security in an alien world.


In just Chicago, some 700 diverse groups including congregations, vereins,  social organizations, family groups, and cousin’s clubs,  and each having  25-600 members, 276 served some 100,000 members. They offered  mutual aid,  such as securing rail and ship tickets for new arrivals.  They assisted with loans, supported the sick and unemployed. Most held monthly meetings, often in a rented hall where members could meet old friends and share kosher refreshments. ,  There was also matchmaking,  picnics,  celebrations and banquets.

Their most solemn task was to bury their dead.

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Each group bought their own individual cemetery land in and each cemetery was identified by a unique gate or arch, some very elaborate in brick or wrought iron. Each of some 260 gates are numbered and usually identified by the name of the group. Tombstones reflect the diverse Jewish population with inscriptions in Yiddish, Hebrew, German, English, Portugese, and Ladino.

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UNTERSTUETZUNG VEREIN is se110a my enhance copyen on many of the gates, simply translates to: “support association”. Those with “Anshe” within the name were groups were formed within a particular synagogue.122 my pic


Over the years, many of the physical gates have been removed or suffered damage from the elements. Some of the more elaborate brick arches have been damaged by severe winter weather and have either been removed or are in need of repair.

The gate numbering system still survives and help make organization out of such a large cemetery. I must mention that some of the pictures in this blog were taken by me many years ago and therefore may not reflect the appearance of t127 kurlander my picturefixedhe cemeteries today.


Cemetery gates No. 1-33 begin on west side of Des Plaines Ave. starting at Roosevelt Road and going South. Cemetery gates No. 34-62 are on the east side of Des Plaines Ave. starting at Greenberg Road and going North. Cemetery gates No. 63-83 are along Roosevelt Road west of Des Plaines Ave. Cemetery gates No. 84-129 are west of the former location of the  railroad tracks and entered through Greenberg Rd., from Des Plaines Ave. And finally cemetery gates No. 200 and up are entered from Harlem Ave at the 18th Street entrance.

Most of the organizations that bravely began in the Maxwell Street neighborhood  have sadly ceased to exist. Families  migrated south,  west, north into newer neighborhoods and then later into the suburbs. Because many of the descendants were now at a distance, support and visitation decreased. As a result, Waldheim has had  to fend for itself, enduring diminished financial support and upkeep. In addition to Jewish Waldheim, there were about 120 Jewish sections in other cemeteries between Gary Indiana and Palatine.  Many of the children and grandchildren now use Shalom Cemetery in Palatine, closer to their homes and with offering adequate space for growth.

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Rediscovering the history of each gate within Jewish Waldheim has been and continues to be a daunting challenge. Since most organizations are no longer in existence, finding more about them and their members has been very difficult. Recently I have received a generous gift from someone whose entire family are buried in Jewish Waldheim. It is a superb book that is the best reference on Jewish groups, “Bridges to an American City – A Guide to Chicago’s Landsmanshaften, 1870 to 1990”. It was written by Sidney Sorkin in 1990, one of the experts of the history of Jewish groups in Chicago.



The story of Jewish Waldheim and those buried there is so overwhelming, interesting and complex  that you will likely see and endure additional blogs on this site in the future. We will certainly highlight a few notable people who helped shape Chicago



As is all the other cemeteries in Chicago, Jewish Waldheim reveals our history and tells us who we are. A cemetery is a wonderful classroom where we can learn about our ancestors, Chicago history, and ourselves.

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Below, I offer an updated gate list showing the synagogues and the many organizations that own, had owned or had a connection to a specific cemetery gate within Jewish Waldheim. The original gate information is  credited to the Piser cemetery guide, but I have now augmented the gate list with information from my research and mostly  from Mr. Sorkin’s fine work. In telling the story of over 700 organizations, Mr. Sorkin  linked groups and synagogues to about half of the Jewish Waldheim  gates.

Please note that there are  conflicts in the information for several reasons. First, many of the groups had multiple name changes as they evolved over the years.  Second  translation from Yiddish or  Russian  caused many spelling variations. Third, there are a few gates that were shared by two cooperating organizations or shuls.  Fourth, some congregations  merged with another causing a name change to either the combined congregation and/or the gate.

For all these reasons, use the following gate index with some caution. Know that changes and corrections will follow.


1   Anshe Kanesses Israel – Suwalki Organization of Chicago    No. 3;
2   Gomel Chesed Shel Emes No. 3 (West Side)
3   Independent Order  Bickur Cholem U’Kadisha  No. 1
4 Rodfei Zedeck
5 B’nai Ruven, Anshe Maxin No. 1;
6 Russ-Poland No. 1; Anshe Russian Keneseth Israel
7 Congregation Beth Sholom Anshe Kroz No. 1
7 Laghishoner Congregation sharing entrance with Congregation

Beth Sholom Anshe Kroz

8 Shomer Hadas No. 3 (Chevra)
9 Anshe Maariv
10 B’nai Itzchok
11 Mishna Gemorra
12 Gomel Chesed Shel Emes No. 2 (West Side)
13 Tiphereth Zion Congregation (Lincoln St. Shule)
14 Austro-Galician Anshe Sephardic Congregation  later known as A.G. Beth Israel
15 B’nai Moishe Congregation
16 Anshe Kanesses Israel Suwalk (Lithuania)    No. 2
17 Dobrzinsker Aid and Rellief Sociey; Dobrzinsker Cemetery Association;

Dorshe Tov Congregation

18 I.W.S.O. (Independent Western Star Order)
19 Gomel Chesed Shel Emes No. 1 (West Side)
20 Kalvaria Aid Society; Anshe Kalavaria Congregation
21 Shomer Hadas No. 2 (Chevra)
22 Austro-Hungarian Kranken Untersteitzung Verein

(Chicago Covenant Aid)

22 Chicago Covenant Aid Society; Austro-Hungarian Kranken

Untersteitzung Verein

23 Sons And Daughters Of Jacob
24 B’nai Israel
25 Anshe Kanesses Israel and Suwalk    No. 1;
26 Beth Hamedrosh Hacdash U’B’nai Jacob, Anshe Luknik
27 Anshe Emet Synagogue
28 Congregation Moses Montifiore
29 Ohava Amuno
30 Independent Order  Bickur Cholem U’Kadisha  No. 1
31 Free Sons Of Israel, Old
32 Shomer Shabbos
33 Atereth Israel (Tiktin No. 2)
33 Ticktin No. 2 (Atereth Israel)
34 Knesses Israel Congregation
35 Ezras Israel Anshe Motele Congregation;

First Motele Untersteitzung Verein of Chicago

36 Knights Of Joseph (O.K.O.J.)
36 Order Knights Of Joseph (O.K.O.J.);  Nieziner Untersteitzung Verein
37 P.O.W. (Progressive Order Of The West); Voliner Branch #251
38 A Naroditcher Congregation K.I.N.S.; Naroditcher Untersteitzung Verein
38 Nusach Sfaard
39 Shavel-Yanover
40 Anshe Motola
41 A Portuguese
41 C North West Hebrew Congregation
41 B’nai Moishe Alexandrovsky Benefit Aid Society
41 Yavner Progrssive Verein; Anshe Yavno Congregation
42 A Gomel Chesed Shel Emes (Northwest Side)
42 Workmen’s Circle; Bieltzerkover Branch #541
43 Free Sons Of Israel, New
44 Mt. Nebo (South Side Hebrew Congregation)
44 South Side Hebrew Congregation (Mt. Nebo)
45 Kovner Verein Branch #304 W.C.; Ohel Jacob Anshe Kovno Congregation
46 Emanuel Congregation
47 A Drohitchin Branch #294, Labor Zionists
47 A Jewish National Workers Alliance (Farband Labor Zionist Organization) ;Cudnow Branch #187 (Labor Zionists)
47 B Mt. Zion
47 C Jewish Peoples Fraternal Order Cemetery formerly I.W.O. (International Workers Order)
47 B’nai Abraham Zion (Oak Park Temple)
48 Drohitchen Verein
49 Machzicki Hadas
50 A Lebovitcher No. 2
50 Zkan Aaron
51 Warsaw  Beneficial Association Cemetery
52 Wilner No. 1; Congregation Mikro Kodesh Anshe Wilno; Vilna United Aid Society
53 Warsaw Progressive Lodge #564 I.O.B.A. (Independent Order

Brith Abraham)

54 Order Brith Abraham ( O.B.A.)
55 First Roumanian  Congregation Anshe S’fard
56 Lebovitcher No. 1
57 Beth Hamedrosh U’B’nai Jacob; Anshe Luknik; Lukniker Verein
58 Ticktin No. 1; Tiktiner Aid Society
59 Dr. Herzl Kranken Untersteitzung Verein
60 Star Of The West
61 Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation
62 Chicago Covenant Aid Society (New Hungarian)
62 New Hungarian (Chicago Convenant Aid Society)
63 Poale Zedeck  Union Street/Clinton and Judd
64 Worner sharing with Bleiweiss Benefit Society
65 Retchitzer Province Aid Society
65 Rezinoier Progressive Verein
66 Bereziner Untersteitzung Verein (Bereziner Adjacent Benefit Association)
66 Beth Aaron Congregation
67 Cousin’s Club
68 Congregation Beth Sholom Anshe Kroz No. 2
68 Sons And Daughters Of Joseph (4 Cem. Gates)
69 Leenas Hatzedeck (Section 4 And 5)
70 Polloner
71 Fastover American Progressive Aid Society
72 Anshe Antipole B’nai Moishe Lieb Congregation;

Antipoler Aid Society

73 Sons And Daughters Of Joseph (One of four Cemetery Gates)
74 Divinsker Progressive Verein; American Brotherhood of Dvinsk
75 Ezras Naduchim
75 Russ-Poland No. 2; Anshe Russian Keneseth Israel
76 Nashelesker Untersteitzung Verein
77 Mlaver Relif Society; Mlaver Untersteitzung Verein
78 Kielcer Aid Society
79 Lutzker Rayoner Society
80 Agudas B’nai Eretz Israel
81 Stuchiner  Social Society
82 Sons And Daughters Of Joseph (4 Cem. Gates)
83 Sons And Daughters Of Joseph (4 Cem. Gates)
84 Ahavas Achim
85 Beth Israel
86 M.S. Cemetery Association Division E
87 A Kesher Israel
87 M.S. Cemetery Association Division F
88 Racianzer Jewish Relief Association of Chicago
89 Leenas Hatzedeck (Section 1 And 2)
90 Temple Judea
91 Anshe Odessa Conregation; Odessa Untersteitzung Verein No. 2; Anshe Zhitomer-Volin Congregation
91 Zhitomer Progressive Verein; Anshe Zhitomer-Volin Congregation
92 B’nai Sholom Congregation
92 Pultusker-Srotzker
92 Wilner No. 2 (Front) Progressive
93 Independent Progress
94 Independent Cemetery Association
95 Beth Tfilla
96 Zhitomer Progressive Verein; Anshe Zhitomer-Volin Congregation
97 Anshe Chodokov Congregation
98 American Brotherhood Of Moghileff Cemetery Association
99 Woronowitzer – Workosilkover  Untersteitzung Verein
100 Pavolitch Untersteitzung Verein No. 1;  Sokolover Ladies Aid Society
101 Sokolover
102 B’nai Ruven, Anshe Maxin No. 2;
103 Wilner No. 2 (Back) Vilna Sisters
104 Stoloner Untersteitzung Verein
105 Atereth Israel Congregation
106 A Ahavas Achim Congregation (1236 N.Claremont Ave.)
106 B Skverar Social Verein American Sokolover Independent Verein
106 Sokolover American Ind. Verein
107 South Chicago Bickur Cholem Congregation
108 B’nai Judea
109 Ostrover No. 1
110 A Ostrover No. 2
110 Makarover (B’nai Jacob Anshe Shalom);

B’nai Jacob Makarover Congregation

111 Independent Lomzer Society
112 Independent Chomsker Untersteitzung Verein
113 First Maramorasher Kranken Untersteitzung Verein
114 Independent Michael Halperin
115 Independent Satinover Untersteitzung Verein
116 Agudath Jacob
117 Lahishiner (Lohishiner)Verein; Anshe Lahishin

Nusach Sfard Delibashon Congregation

118 American Progressive Society (Poland)
119 Moor Chaim Congregation
120 Ostrover No. 3
121 Goldman Lodge
121 Mozir Progressive Verein
122 Anshe Antipole B’nai Moishe Lieb Congregation
123 Anshe Odessa Conregation; Odessa Untersteitzung Verein No. 1
124 Hebrew Progressive Benevolent Association
125 Anshe Yanover Congregation; Yanoverr Progressive Verein
126 Boslover
127 Kurlander Aid Society Cemetery Association;

Gegenseitiger Untersteitzung Verein Der Kurlander

128 Englewood, 1St Englewood Congregation
129 Congregation Anshe Pinsk;

Congregation Mikro Kodesh Anshe Lida-Pinsk

200 Kishinover-Bessarabier Aid Society
201 First Galician Aid Society; Anshe Galicia Congregation
202 Peryslaverr Untersteitzung Verein
203 Proskurover Untersteitzung Verein
204 Beth Itzchok Of Albany Park Congregation
205 Beth Abraham Congregation
206 Anshe Pavolitch Congregation #2 (The dissenters)
207 Anshe Zedeck Congregation 19 O’Brien
208 Novy Dworer Verein
209 B’nai Israel Congregation
210 Trestiner Untersteitzung Verein
211 Chatiner/Choitner  Bessarabian Untersteitzung Verein
212 Kishnover Cemetery Association; Kishnover Relief Society
213 Klimentover  and Bessarabier Aid Society; City of Klimentov Aid Society
214 City Of Klimentow Aid Society
215 Independent Stashever Untersteitzung Verein
216 Zemach Zedeck Congregation 1439 N Talman
217 Telzer Untersteitzung Verein
218 Staroduber Benevolent And Cultural Association
219 Beth Joseph Of South Shore Congregation
220 Breziner Adjacent Benefit Association
221 Kovner Verein Branch #304 W.C.; Ohel Jacob Anshe Kovno Congregation
222 Bendiner Umgegund Verein (Bendiner Benefit Society)
223 Adath B’nai Israel Tomche Shabbos, Congregation
223 Tomche Shabbos Congregation
224 Anshe Dorom Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol (See Rodfei Shalom)
224 Rodfei Sholom Oir Chodosh Congregation
225 First Krinker Aid Society; B’nai Israel
226 Atereth Zion Congregation
227 Prushnitzer Friendship Association
228 United Pavolitcher Society
229 Independent Ladizinker United Verein; Breziner Adjacent Association
230 A B’nai Bezalel Congregation
230 Dubover Ternifker Verein
231 Brusilover Untersteitzung Verein
232 Shavler Progressive Society
233 Kadaner (Keidaner) United Verein;

Brith Abraham Shimen Anshe Keidan

234 Dinovitzer and Podoler Untersteitzung Verein
235 Lukow Mezritcher And Vicinity Society; Lukover Society
236 Goldfaden Landsmanship Farband
237 Jewish National Workers Alliance (Labor Zionist Order)
238 Pinsker Independent Society; Pinsker Umgegund Society
239 Loghishiner Cemetery Association
240 Anshe Pinsk Congregation
241 Rezistchever Benefit Society
242 Chenstochower Neighborhood Education Society
243 Hebrew Workers Sick Benefit Society
244 Chenstochower Independent Verein
246 Plinsker Umgegund Society
247 Korostishever Branch No. 195 J.N.W.A.;

Congregation Anshe Korostichhever

248 A Anshe Emet Synagogue
248 B Locker Family Circle
248 Ahavas Israel Congregation
249 A El-Or Memorial
249 Ostrer-Rayoner Aid Society
250 New Beaconfield American Lodge No. 648
250 Ostrer-Rayoner Aid Society
251 Korostishever Branch No. 195 J.N.W.A.;

Congregation Anshe Korostichhever

251 Ostrer-Rayoner Aid Society
252 Ostrer-Rayoner Aid Society
253 Tiktiner Relief Society
254 Sudilkov Shepetovker Relief Society
255 Lev Someach And Rabbi Henach Tversky Congregation
255 Rabbi Henach Tversky And Lev Someach Congregation
256 Brest-Litovsk And Province Aid Society
257 Semiaticher Verein
258 Breziner Lodge Independent Order Bickur Cholim;

Independent Breziner Society

259 Beth Hamedrash Hagodol (Albany Park Hebrew Congregation)
260 Independent Minsker Aid Society Cemetery
261 Chicago Kletsker Aid Society;
262 B’nai Moishe Ekaterinoslaver Untersteitzung Verein
263 Vinitzer Untersteitzung Verein
264 Anshe Emet Of Englewood Congregation 6124 S May
265 Zhiditshover Cemetery Association; Zhiditshover Progressive Verein
266 Independent Austrian Aid Society
266 Zhiditshover Cemetery Association; Zhiditshover Progressive Verein
267 Zhiditshover Cemetery Association; Zhiditshover Progressive Verein
268 Slutzker And Vicinity Association; Slutzker Hebrew Aid Society
269 Keltzer Progressive Society
270 Gornystopoler-Ivankover and Umgegund Society
271 Rovner Rayoner Independent Society (Galicia)
272 Prager Warsawer Benevolent Association
273 Independent Beldzer Bessarabier Society
274 Lubliner American Society
275 Roumanian Jewish Cemetery Association
276 B’nai Yakov, Congregation
277 Pogrebishter Society Progrressive
278 Kiever Progressive Untersteitzung Verein
279 White Plain Anshe Shude Loven Untersteitzung Verein
280 Ozeraner Dubner Aid Society
281 Warsaw Congregation Cemetery Association
282 Ovrucher United Verein
283 Independent Kiever Sick and Benefit Association; United Kiever Verein Cemetery
284 Original Demievker-Kiever Society
285 Demievker Kiever Society
286 Chabner  Untersteitzung Verein
287 Slavaticher-Domachever Verein
288 Southwestern Jewish Cemetery Association
289 Soroka -Bessarabian Benevolent Society
290 Bazarer Prog. Untersteitzung Verein
300 General Section Of Jewish Woodlawn
301 Masonic Section

14 thoughts on “Over 260 Cemeteries Within ONE Cemetery”

  1. My ancestors were German Luthern and are supposedly buried in Waldheim. Is there any way to find them besides going page by page through the records on microfilm at the Newberry Library?


    1. The short answer is yes. In the last several years, we have been able to escape sitting at a microfilm reader with a pencil and a stack of index cards. Tens of millions of records are digitally scanned and indexed. These can be accessed on line on sites like Familysearch, Ancestry, findagrave and others while sitting in your jammies. The LDS church has thousands of volunteers indexing even more records each day which then come online. What you cannot find today might well be available tomorrow. The Waldheim your relatives are in is German Waldheim merged into Forest Home, both just down the street from Jewish Waldheim. Email me with a surname at German Waldheim and I happily try to help. I am at bartonius84@hotmail.com. I have additional tools that may help. Barry Fleig


    1. Thank you so much Joe. I have some 400 pages of my (somewhat dry) Chicago cemetery research that I intended to publish as a book. Switching to this website format has allowed me to write feature based stories that hopefully are of broader interest. And the immediate feedback, such as yours, is so helpful in helping me go forward. And for that, I thank you, as well as all my thousands of readers . There are many new blogs in the works on a wide variety of “lively” Chicago cemetery topics. I simply need more than 24 hours in a day.


      1. I’ve ridden my bicycle through this cemetery on many occasions. It,s a fascinating and a historic place. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to hear there stories as we all have one…… Justin


  2. My great grandmother, Ida Gottlieb Polak is buried at #47, B’nai Abraham Zion (Oak Park Temple). I think my gg, Emil J. Polak is too. Thank you for this research, one day I want to go and pay my respects to them. I am trying now to trace their ancestry in Bohemia to visit their birth places, but am reaching dead ends. Any suggestions?


  3. I grew up in Albany Park. My Grandfather built our house in 1920. Half of my neighborhood was Jewish and the other ethnic groups were Irish, German, Swedish and Italian. My family shared both Christian and Jewish holy and high days together. I am so thankful for those experiences and I find your work valuable for piecing together the fabric of our integrated lives. Chicago is truly an example of God bring many together and building GREAT communities.


  4. My dad was buried here about 26 years ago is there anyway to find out in which area he is buried?
    PS I love your site!!!


  5. I have been doing some research and found that many of my family members are buried at Waldheim. Waldheim was able to send to me the Location (Gate 218 Staroduber Benevolent, Row 4P, Grave 1 & 2A) of my Great Grandparents, who immigrated from Russia. My other Great Grandparents immigrated from Romania. Still looking for their gravesites. . My father was an only child, and died many years ago, so had no connection until now. Thank you for the article, it has helped answer some questions. I grew up in the Chicago area, but know nothing of this. I now live in California, and plan a trip back to Chicago next summer (post COVID) to visit Waldheim, now that I have learned so much!


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