Friday, August 20, 1999
A tiny 152-year old burial ground (Centerville Cemetery, est. 1847), believed to be the oldest organized Jewish cemetery in New Jersey, is being restored. Landlocked behind View Place in the Albion section of Clifton near Broad Street, this final resting place for the area’s first Jewish residents sat forgotten for decades as tract homes sprouted up around it in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
A small group of Jews formed B’nai Jeshurun synagogue in Paterson and opened the 50-by-100-foot cemetery in 1847. Several decades later, the congregation opened Mount Nebo on a much larger tract in Totowa and stopped using the Clifton cemetery. The last burial was probably in the late 1800’s.
Not much is known about the people buried there partly because only one or two headstones were visible in the thicket of brush and debris covering the cemetery. B’nai Jeshurun leaders (now of Franklin Lakes) vowed to restore the cemetery, and a crew spent several days clearing briers, trees, and garbage that had accumulated over the decades. Additional stones were found during the cleanup including ones with the family names of GOODHORN and ROSENSTIEN.
Passaic’s City Historian and Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey member, Mark Auerbach, plans to have the Hebrew lettering on the stones translated and hopes to conduct genealogical research to determine identities and find any descendants for these pioneers of the Jewish community.