Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries and Landmarks
The Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries and Landmarks was created under the sponsorship of the Judah L. Magnes Museum in 1963 for the purpose of preserving Jewish cemeteries from the Gold Rush areas of California.
The Commission acquired title to six cemeteries (Grass Valley, Jackson, Placerville, Nevada City, Mokelumne Hill, and Sonora) and immediately intitiated projects to restore these important Jewish historic sites. Hal Altman served as the first Chairman of the Commission and early officers included Robert Levinson, Stephen Zellerbach, Rabbi Joseph B. Glaser, Justice Leonard Friedman, MIlton Meyer, Gerald Marcus, Harry Hilp, and Sam Clar.
Important publications related to the Commission’s work include Robert Levinson’s A Preliminary Report on Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries and Communities of the California Mother Lode (Oakland: Judah L. Magnes Museum, 1968) and Susan Morris’ A Traveler’s Guide to Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries of the California Gold Rush (Berkeley: Judah L. Magnes Museum, 1996).
The records of the Cemeteries Commission, as well as photographs of the tombstones in these Gold Rush Jewish cemeteries, are housed in the Magnes Collection’s Western Jewish Americana archives. Many of these photographs can also be viewed online.
The work of the Commission, which is no longer affiliated with The Magnes, continues today. More information is available at this link.