New Orleans abounds with Jewish history, which is not unusual for a city that bursts with ethnic and cultural diversity. Jewish philanthropists have filled the city with a synagogue (Touro Synagogue), a showplace for the arts (The New Orleans Museum of Art), educational institutions (Tulane University, Delgado Community College), a hospital (Touro Infirmary), and have also benefited parks, tourist attractions, and Dillard University, a prominent African American educational institution.
New Orleans has been home to many Jewish congregations. Temple Sinai, pictured here, was home to the many German and Alsatian Jews who settled in New Orleans; it was the city's first Reform congregation, founded in 1872. The congregation occupied this building until a new Temple was built in 1928. In addition to Temple Sinai, other New Orleans congregations include Touro Synagogue, Gates of Prayer, Beth Israel, Anshe Sfard and Chevra Thilim.
The city has known many highly successful Jewish merchants. Most of these opened and operated major retail businesses in the main shopping area of the city during the later 1800's and early 1900's. And most of those businesses endured well into the late 1900's, when suburban retail markets took over.
There are also several Jewish cemeteries in New Orleans. The largest, opened in 1872, is Hebrew Rest Cemetery, 3 separate cemeteries occupying two and one-half city squares. The beautiful and dramatic double cast-iron gates that grace the main entrance to the cemetery were originally made for The World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial in New Orleans in 1884, and are the only remaining structures from that Exposition. (See top of page.) The oldest cemetery still in existence in New Orleans is Gates of Prayer Cemetery No. 1, opened in 1853.
Natives of Alsace buried in these cemeteries include: Isaac Raas, born in Niedernai Alsace March 18 1825, died in Lake Charles, Louisiana May 3 1902; Sarah Kauffmann Raas, born January 11 1822 in Gundershoffen Alsace, died September 26 1899; Joseph Blum, born October 10 1830 in Gundershoffen Alsace, died April 28 1902 in Carencro, Louisiana; Achille Jaudel, born December 5 1872 in Benfeld, Alsace, died June 5 1938; Lazare Levy, born April 15 1858 in Strasbourg Alsace, died September 19 1941; Achille Alphonse Levy, born February 11 1852 in Oberschaeffolsheim, Alsace, died February 26 1896 in Opelousas, Louisiana; Marks Levy, born in Haguenau France, died August 23 5613, age 31 years; Clara Lilienthal, born in Colmar, Haut Rhin, died January 27 1856, age 58 years; Aron Netter, born in Alsace, died December 30 1903, age 47 years, 7 months.
[Sources for some of the information above: website and brochures published by the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in Utica, Mississippi; Andrew Simons and The Greater New Orleans Archivists, "The Jews of New Orleans, An Archival Guide"; Eric J. Brock, "New Orleans Cemeteries".]