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History of Canal Street Cemetery

The Gates of Prayer cemetery at 4824 Canal Street has been called many names since it was founded in 1858. It’s been called many names, in part because it has never been a single cemetery. Instead, it has been owned by and used by five different local congregations/organizations who have buried their members there over its lengthy history. Today, the cemetery is owned by Congregation Gates of Prayer, Chevra Thilim Cemetery Corporation, and Congregation Beth Israel.



Taken from the Canal Street side, Tememe Derech section, looking through towards the Chevra Thilim and Beth Israel sections of the cemetery.


However, although the cemetery is well known as “Gates of Prayer #2,” the Congregation never purchased any part of the cemetery. Instead, the Congregation accepted the section along Canal Street from the Tememe Derech Cemetery Association in 1939, and the section facing South Bernadotte Street from the Chevra Mikveh Israel Association in 1950 as donations from both organizations as they disbanded. In doing so, Congregation Gates of Prayer made commitments to maintain the sections in perpetuity while beginning to have burials of its congregants there.



The South Bernadotte Street entrance of the Canal Street Cemetery, in the Chevra Mikveh Israel section.


Tememe Derech, which means “The Right Way,” was a small orthodox congregation in the Dryades Street area, which became known as simply “the Polish Congregation.” Chartered in 1857, Tememe Derech acquired a section of the cemetery in 1858 and purchased additional adjacent lots along the front of the cemetery on Canal Street in several transactions through 1906. In 1904, several small orthodox congregations, including Tememe Derech, merged to create a new Orthodox congregation called Congregation Beth Israel. In anticipation of the merger and disbanding as a synagogue, Tememe Derech continued as a volunteer group that administered their Canal Street cemetery for the next thirty-six years. On August 8, 1939, the cemetery was donated to Congregation Gates of Prayer.

“The Mikveh Israel Association of New Orleans” had formed as a small Litvak congregation in the latter half of the 1800s, also in the Dryades Street area, and acquired property adjacent to that of Tememe Derech but facing the side street, South Bernadotte, in 1865. Little else is known about Chevra (which is “Association” in Hebrew) Mikveh Israel. However, it appears it existed for the first half of the 20th century as a cemetery association rather than a congregation. On May 8, 1950, as with the transfer of the Tememe Derech section eleven years earlier, Gates of Prayer accepted the donation of the Bernadotte Street cemetery from Chevra Mikveh Israel.  This section of the cemetery still is often referred to as the South Bernadotte Cemetery.

Please click here to read a more complete history of the Canal Street cemetery.

Thu, May 30 2024 22 Iyar 5784