Lillian, in Porcelain

31495329_882195745566_4662631584757710848_nLillian was just 17 years old when she died in 1925. I love finding stones with these old porcelain portraits, and the Jewish cemetery I visited last weekend had a bunch of them. This one stood out to me – both her pose and her outfit. I’m not related, just came across it while fulfilling request for findagrave.


8 thoughts on “Lillian, in Porcelain

  1. Have not seen these in my tramps through cemeteries. So interesting! Makes you want to know more about Lillian, for sure.

  2. That is very strange since traditionally Jewish headstones are not supposed to have images of the deceased. Here’s a quote from one rabbi on the subject: ” traditionally Jewish gravestones do not include etchings or depictions of the deceased. The reason for this is twofold: There is a general concern against physical depictions, especially in places where people come to pray, because of the Bible’s stricture against idolatry and the forming of graven images. Secondly, we strive to remember the spiritual qualities and values of the deceased – for these are what truly endure forever. Though there is no absolute prohibition against such etchings and depictions, they are not normative in Jewish tradition. It is very possible that there are subcultures that do allow and even encourage these depictions but they are almost surely not religious groups or burial societies.”

    Obviously different groups may have different traditions, but I have never before seen such an image in a Jewish cemetery!

    • Interesting! I didn’t know that. This is the first Jewish cemetery I’ve visited. Normally I’m photographing at non-denominational cemeteries. I’m going back to the Jewish cemetery today and am excited to photograph more of these. There were dozens and dozens of them, just scanning the rows visually. Most seemed to be from the 1910-1930 period, so I wonder if that has anything to do with it? Changing attitudes around WWI or just different practices?

      • Where is the cemetery? I wonder whether it was peculiar to a particular locality or even just one family. Since the current practice still is to avoid these, I don’t think it changed much around that period in general. However, I now recall that I have seen some with pictures on recent stones for Soviet Jews who immigrated in the late 20th century. But not for any other Jewish gravestones whether from 100 years ago or last week.

        I will be interested in seeing what else you find at that cemetery!

      • The cemetery is just outside Philadelphia. Apparently, it was started by a Russian Jew in the 1890s for Eastern European Jews regardless of country of origin.

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