Death means the separation of the body from the soul.
Symbols on Gravestones:
The hands held in benediction are the symbol of the Cohens, members of the priestly family of the tribe of Levi. The rabbi devinely blesses the congregation with this posture of the hands. The status of priest is hereditary and carries numerous rights and responsibilities.
The water jug and washing bowl is the symbol of the Levites, members of the priestly tribe of Levi. They have certain privileges in the synagogue service one being the washing of the hands of the priest before the service.
The crown has a number of meanings: it is a symbol of the re-establishment of the kingdom of Judah. It is also written: "There are three crowns - the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the king's crown. But the crown of God surpasses all others".
Animals are often a reference to the name of the deceased. The lion corresponds with the name Ari, Leib, Löw (Loew), etc. The lion is also the symbol of the tribe of Judah.
The deer is a reference to such names as Hirsch, Herschel, etc. The deer is a symbol of the tribe of Naphtali, Jacob's sixth son whose mother was Rachel's handmaid (Genesis 30: 7-8). The Talmud states: "Be as enduring as the tiger, as free as the eagle, as fleet as the deer, as strong as the lion, so as to fulfil the will of your Father in Heaven."
The offering box generally symbolizes the charitableness of the deceased or refers to his office as treasurer. The Talmud states: "Charity overcomes death."
All the following Jewish cemeteries are closed except for the Altona Königstraße cemetery and the community cemetery in Ohlsdorf. The
requisit keys may be obtained from the Jewish Community in Hamburg.
The Jewish cemetery is regarded as a "beth olam" i.e. "House of Eternity". Within Jewish religious law the cemetery exists, in perpetuity, until the appearance of the Messiah. The cemetery constitutes an important institution for the community.
In the 17th century Hamburg denied the Jews a cemetery within the bounds of the city.
The earliest Jewish cemetery within the environs of Hamburg is the cemetery in Königstraße within the district of Altona, founded in 1663, with circa 2,500 Sephardic and 6,000 Ashkenazi graves. Today it is a significant historic monument.
After extensive research and restoration of the graves the cemetery was reopened on 29 November 2007 when Mayor Ole von Beust inaugurated the new reception building, the Eduard Duckesz House.
Eduard Jecheskel Duckesz was born on 3 August 1868 in Szelepszeny, Hungary. He was rabbi, historian and genealogist: After studying at the Pressburger Yeshiva in 1891 he became rabbi and teacher for the Altona Klaus synagogue. As well as serving as a judge on Jewish Law, Mohel, hospital pastoral worker, garrison chaplain and representative of the highest rabbinical court he also researched into the Jewish grave inscriptions and the genealogy of Jewish families from the Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbek (AHU) tri community.
In 1939 he immigrated to Holland from Nazi Germany. In 1943 he was deported from the Westerbork internment camp to Auschwitz where he was murdered on 6 March 1944.
It has been nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Jewish cemetery in the former Langenreihe, renamed Königsreihe within the district of Wandsbek, founded in 1637, was closed in 1886.
Chronologically, followed the foundation in 1663 of the Jewish cemetery within the district
of Ottensen, with circa 1,000 graves.
During the time of the Plague the Hamburg Senate perforce allowed the founding of a Jewish cemetery within the city, in the "Grindel" district, founded in 1711/13, with circa 9,000 graves.
This was vacated in 1937 (Third Reich), in agreement with the Jewish Community. Complete
exhumation, reburial and the transfer of gravestones of eminent Jews to the Jewish cemetery
in Ilandkoppel within the district of Ohlsdorf was carried out.
A temporary cemetery was founded, during the period between January and May 1814, in Neue
Steinweg, situated within the Neu-Stadt (New City), during the French occupation of the city.
There were 57 dead and 18 gravestones.
The Jewish cemetery in Ilandkoppel within the district of Ohlsdorf was established in 1882/83 by the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities following contracts with the City of Hamburg, which remained owner of the land.
It is the only Jewish cemetery in Hamburg in use today.
In addition there are four small, disused Jewish cemeteries:
In Schwarzenbergstraße within the district of Harburg, founded at the end of the 17th century. Ascending the right side of Schwarzenbergstraße from the town turn right onto the path after the buildings end and the green area begins. This path curves to the left passing a side entrance to a school and a Drug Rehabilitation Centre before arriving at the cemetery on the right. This is a small but extremely beautiful cemetery.
In Bornkampsweg within the district of Bahrenfeld, founded in 1874.
In Jenfelder Straße within the district of Wandsbek, founded in 1886.
In Försterweg within the district of Langenfelde, founded in 1886/87.