WASHINGTON HEBREW CONGREGATION Print

1380 Alabama Avenue SE, Washington, DC (202) 562-1807. Take Beltway Exit 22B (B-W Pkwy)to I-295 South to Suitland Pkwy. Take Suitland Pkwy 1.5 mi. to Stanton Rd. Turn right onto Stanton Rd. and follow up hill approx. 1.0 mi. to Alabama Ave. Turn right onto Alabama Ave. Go to 1st gate.

The oldest Jewish congregation in the nation's capital is Washington Hebrew Congregation (WHC), founded in 1852 by a group of German Jews. Though originally Orthodox, the congregation adopted more and more reforms and when in 1869, they voted to order an organ, 35 members split from WHC to form the new Orthodox congregation, Adas Israel. Macpelah was the first cemetery of WHC. It is no longer located at its original site on Hamilton Road. The name comes from the name that Abraham gave to his family's burial site.

The oldest grave identified is from July 1851; belonging to Albertne Cohen. In the new location on Alabama Avenue the cemetery is still active and is surrounded at a distance by the newer Washington Hebrew Memorial Cemetery. The layout of Macpelah is irregular, with no clearly defined plots and uneven rows. Some of the earliest graves were re-ordered by date of death when they were moved in the 1870's. Some graves were moved a second time, when Alabama Avenue was widened. Time and water drainage have caused some of the graves on the hillside to sink below ground level completely obscuring them from view and identification. It is known that the hillside graves were mostly children's burial sites.

The old cemetery is located to the right of the cemetery's entrance gates, but since these gates are frequently locked, a visitor may have to enter through the gates to the adjacent Adas Israel cemetery and find their way over to the WHC gate. The cemetery is well maintained. [UPDATE: March, 2008)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 April 2010 15:06