The Hebrew Section of Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth, Ohio, was established in the early 1850s by members of the Portsmouth Hebrew Benevolent Society and its grounds have served as the final resting place for members of Southern Ohio’s Jewish community for over 170 years.
In 1860, the Portsmouth Hebrew Benevolent Society transferred ownership of its plots to Beneh Abraham, a Jewish congregation that was incorporated in Portsmouth two years earlier in 1858. It is possible that the Society was composed of two distinct groups, one for men and one for women. An 1864 letter published by Judah Wechsler, who at the time was serving as rabbi of Beneh Abraham, in The Israelite, a Jewish newspaper out of Cincinnati, mentions that Esther Stern was the founder and first president of the local Ladies Benevolent Society.
In 1863, Isaac Weil was laid to rest in the Hebrew Section of Greenlawn, numbering among the first to be buried in the dedicated Jewish section. Approximately 39 other people are buried in the section, with the most recent burial occurring in 2018.
Members from influential Jewish families including the Seidenbach, Elsas, Seeberger, Lehman, Levi, Labold, Mayer and many more are all buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in the Hebrew section. Members from these families founded the Beneh Abraham congregation in Portsmouth and went on to become influential members of the Portsmouth community in their own right.
Note should also be made of those members of the local Jewish community who served during World War II alongside Americans of all backgrounds. At least four people are known. Their names are Morton Atlas, Gershon David, Edward Levi, and David Timmer. In addition, Dr. Sol Asch served with the United States Public Health Service, which, while providing critical services to the United States, is not a branch of the armed forces. Gershon David was a resident of Jackson, Ohio, 37 miles northeast of Portsmouth, and David Timmer lived in Vanceburg, Kentucky 45 miles southwest of Portsmouth. Morton Atlas and Dr. Sol Asch are buried in Portsmouth's Greenlawn Cemetery.
Works Cited - Primary Sources:
Lasker, Abraham. Letter to the editor, Israelite, March 16, 1860.
“Correspondence.” Israelite, October 07, 1864.