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Oldest Jewish Cemetery of California Gold Rush Era Will Be Rededicated

The oldest Jewish cemetery of the California Gold Rush era will be rededicated at public ceremonies on May 18 in the Gold Rush town of Sonora. The deed to the burial ground has been acquired by the Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries and Landmarks of San Jose. The commission holds title to five other Jewish cemeteries in California and Nevada dating from the 1850s but the Sonora cemetery is the oldest. The earliest known burial there dates from Aug. 17, 1853.

According to Dr. Robert E. Levinson, Jews came to the Gold Rush in the early 1850s and sold food, clothing and mining equipment to prospectors. They became leaders of local government and prominent among them was Emanuel Lindberg, a member of the first town council of Sonora who was buried in the Sonora Hebrew Cemetery. The cemetery was previously the property of the Hebrew Benevolent Society composed of descendants of Sonora’s Jewish pioneers.

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