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Montefiore Cemetery

Serving Conservative Jews in the Salt Lake area, the Montefiore Cemetery can be found amidst the city’s historic Avenues. Dedicated to preserving the memories of Utah’s Jewish community, the Montefiore Cemetery contains a personal memorial to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Cemetery Montefiore is one of three Jewish cemeteries in Salt Lake City. It is affiliated with cemeteries B’nai Israel, serving Reform Jews, and Shaare Tzedek, which is specifically for Orthodox Jews. Located at 1081 East 4th Avenue, Montefiore is dedicated to followers of the Conservative branch of Judaism. Conservative Judaism is a movement that focuses on the authority of Jewish law and tradition, but with an emphasis on obtaining assent from the people. For Conservative Jews, Jewish law (Halakha) is simultaneously binding and subject to historical development. It allows for greater pluralism than Orthodox Judaism, but is more traditional than Reform Judaism. There is room for the traditional, received forms, but Conservative Jews hold space for various ways to interpret and apply these past traditions. 

Brigham Young donated the land for this and Salt Lake’s other Jewish cemeteries to the Jewish community in 1866. The cemeteries are operated by the Kol Ami Cemetery Association: Salt Lake City does not allocate resources to maintain them. Those serving on the board of this association are volunteers from Salt Lake’s synagogue, Congregation Kol Ami. The guiding principles of the Kol Ami Cemetery Association are Kavod Ha Meit: showing honor and respect for the dead; Nichum Aveilim: comforting those who are mourning a loss; and simplicity: all are equal in death. A Jew can be in any one of the three cemeteries, but each has slightly different requirements. Those who wish to be buried with their non-Jewish spouses can only do so in the Reform cemetery. Orthodox and Conservative cemeteries require a ceremonial washing of the body before burial, but Reform cemeteries do not require the washing. 

The Montefiore Cemetery can be found on the southern end of the larger Salt Lake City Cemetery, just a few streets east of the Reform B’nai Israel Cemetery. As it is Conservative, those wishing to be buried in this cemetery are to be ritually washed before burial and cannot be buried with non-Jewish family members. 

One of the most moving sites at the Montefiore Cemetery is very discrete– it does not immediately catch one’s eye amidst the rows of marble. Toward the eastern edge of the cemetery stands the headstone of Josef and Ruth Teustch Schwager, whose son, Pete Schwager, is on the Kol Ami Cemetery Board. The Schwagers fled Nazi Germany in 1939, arriving in New York that same year, then making their way west to Utah. Ruth Schwager’s parents, Dr. Arthur Teutsch and Clara Holzinger Teutsch, were unable to escape the Nazi regime and perished in the Theresienstadt and Auschwitz concentration camps. Ruth Schwager was determined that her parents be remembered, and thus included their names on her gravemarker. 

Cemetery Montefiore is a calm and peaceful spot amidst the bustle of Salt Lake City. Dedicated to adherents of Conservative Judaism, it has stood for over a century. The Kol Ami Cemetery Association preserves this and other Jewish cemeteries with evident care and approbation.

Images

Cemetery Gates
Cemetery Gates Photo taken by Isabella Holt.
Gates Detail
Gates Detail Photo taken by Isabella Holt.
Hebrew Gates Detail
Hebrew Gates Detail Photo taken by Isabella Holt.
Grave Detail
Grave Detail Photo taken by Isabella Holt.
Grave Details
Grave Details Photo taken by Isabella Holt.

Location

Metadata

Isabella Holt, Brigham Young University, “Montefiore Cemetery,” Intermountain Histories, accessed May 24, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/762.