Ralph Levy can visit four generations of family by walking a few hundred feet.
His great-great-grandfather, buried in 1880. His great-grandfather, buried in 1923. His grandmother, buried in 1977. His mother, buried in 2011.
And when his time comes, he’ll be buried here too.
When I first moved to Nashville, my editor mentioned that she always wondered why there was a Jewish cemetery in North Nashville, a historically African-African part of town. I stopped by, talked to some of the neighbors, called every city historian I could get ahold of — no one really knew how it ended up there.
However, I did come across some guesses. Ralph Levy, the president of the synagogue that owns the cemetery, took me on a tour of the grounds one sweltering Nashville summer day. He said the location might have been chosen in the 1800s because it was cheaper land, outside the city center, but accessible by a trolley.
Except for the occasional groundskeepers and funerals, the land stays undisturbed. It’s a peaceful, almost hidden place. My full history on the cemetery is on WPLN.org. The photos I took of the cemetery are below. Click on the i to see the photo captions.
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