Jewish Cemeteries

1400 S. Des Plaines
Forest Park, IL

The official site for Waldheim Cemeteries
can be found at http://www.waldheimcemetery.com/

Waldheim Jewish Cemeteries, alternatively known as Jewish Waldheim Cemeteries, are the largest Jewish burying grounds in the Chicago area. Approximately two hundred and forty cemeteries make up Jewish Waldheim, totalling over 175,000 burials. Most of these cemeteries have their own gates of stone or brick, sometimes with iron doors, bearing the name of the cemetery.

Presently, 109 of these gates are featured on this site.

Jewish Waldheim is adjacent to Forest Home, which lies across 12th street (Roosevelt Road). Forest Home is itself the result of a merger of two cemeteries - Forest Home and German Waldheim. South of Jewish Waldheim is the nondenominational Woodlawn.

The cemeteries can be divided into three major groupings: West, Central, and East. Each has a distinctive character.

WEST: Gates #1-33 and 63-83: The west division, between Des Plaines Avenue and the Des Plaines River, has many of the oldest cemeteries. Long and narrow paths extend westward from Desplaines toward the forest preserve. Here, the monuments are most densely packed, and the quietest and most isolated parts of the cemetery can be found.

CENTRAL: Gates #34-62 and 84-132: The central section is nearly as old as the west. It is bordered on the north by a shopping center, and on the south by Greenberg Road. There are roads within named for Biblical figures: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, and Rebecca. In this south-central part, the gates do not open uniformly on one road, but face all directions.

EAST: Gates #200-301: The east division features newer cemeteries, many of them established after the 1940s. Here, the roads are wide and well laid out. There is more space between individual graves, which tend to have monuments of more modern designs. The arched gateways here are generally of brick, and are always on internal roads - none face the city streets. Eastern Waldheim is accessible only by two entrances, one on Harlem Avenue, one near the railroad tracks to the west.

A map of Waldheim was compiled by Eugene Mandel in 1961, and is reprinted and distributed by Piser Weinstein Menorah Chapels. Each cemetery was numbered, and many of them have those numbers posted on the gate or near it. Most of the cemetery names referenced here were taken from that map.


Waldheim West

West of Desplaines Avenue; south of Roosevelt Road; extending south to about 18th Street; bounded on the west by the Desplaines River; having entrances on Desplaines Avenue.

Waldheim Central

Between Des Plaines Avenue on the west and the railroad tracks on the east; bounded on the south by Greenberg Road and on the north by a US Post Office facility and a shopping center; having entrances on Des Plaines Avenue or Greenberg Road.

Waldheim East

Between the railroad tracks on the west and Harlem Avenue on the east; bounded on the north by 16th street and the south just north of Cermak road; with one outward-facing entrance on Harlem Avenue.

Famous people at Waldheim: Governor Sam Shapiro; Actress Clara Peller; Movie Producer Michael Todd.

Note: due to the exceptionally large size of my Waldheim site (nearly 200 pages), I have dispensed with the icon gallery that is usually found in this location. If you want to see the automatically-generated index page, it's here.

References and Links

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Graveyards of Chicago

© 1996-2005 Matt Hucke
All content (text and photographs) by Matt Hucke, unless otherwise indicated.