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Important Dates in

HFBA's History

1888 - The Hebrew Free Burial Association is incorporated as Chebra Agudas Achim Chesed Shel Emeth (The Society of the Brotherhood of True Charity) by Barnett Freedman, Louis Michilitsky, Selig Bergman, Marks Silva, Joseph Mistorsky, Max Cohen, Abraham L. Stone, Levy Minsky, and Abraham Greenberg on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
Image of the Lower East Side


1892 - HFBA purchases property in Staten Island for its first cemetery, Silver Lake.
Drawing of Silver Lake Cemetery from HFBA's Archives.


1900 - Within the first 12 years of its existence, HFBA has buried 6,275 indigent Jews.

1909 - A large parcel of property is purchased in Staten Island and Mount Richmond Cemetery is developed. Mt. Richmond still serves as HFBA's primary burial space.

1911 - HFBA arranges for the burial of 22 victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
Grave Marker of Beckie Reines, a victim of the Triangle Factory Fire.


1916 - HFBA grows to an organization of 4,000 members, most of whom contributed $5 or less annually. The annual meeting attracted 500 participants and received coverage in The New York Times. HFBA was able to proudly declare that since its inception, no Jew had been buried in Potter's Field.
Cover of HFBA donor log.Cover Page of HFBA Donor Log from HFBA archives.


1918 - HFBA buries many victims of the worldwide Spanish Flu epidemic.

1920's-1930's - HFBA provides burials for many immigrants arriving from Eastern Europe.

1945 - World War II ends and as survivors flee Europe, many arrive to live in New York City. Over the years, HFBA provides funerals and burials for thousands of Holocaust survivors.

1945 - HFBA changes the official record keeping and the recording of the committee minutes from Yiddish to English.

1957 - HFBA moves its office uptown from the Lower East Side to 1170 Broadway.

1965 - At the organization's annual meeting, the official name, Chebra Agudas Achim Chesed Shel Emeth, adds "The Hebrew Free Burial Association," reflecting the Americanization of the membership and clients.

1979 - During the Sabbath, vandals strike Mt. Richmond Cemetery and overturn 450 monuments. Plainclothes police officers are assigned to the cemetery to deter further desecration.

1981-1982 - HFBA receives significant grants from the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.

1987 - HFBA inaugurates its Second Century Campaign and launches a major outreach effort to agencies assisting indigent Jews as well as a fundraising drive to reach those who can provide financial support. Liaisons with agencies assisting the poor, ill and homeless are established and brochures, a newsletter (later named the Chesed) and a public relations campaign are initiated to publicize the unique and important work of HFBA.

1990 - UJA-Federation launches Operation Exodus to help Jews leave the Soviet Union. Over the next decade, more than 40,000 Jews per year come to the United States and burials at HFBA rise to record levels in response to immigration.

1991 - The Leave Your Mark Campaign is established to leave a simple stone marker on every unmarked grave in Mt. Richmond Cemetery.
Graves marked by HFBA's Leave Your Mark Campaign.


1992 - The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation grants funds to repair the physical condition of Mount Richmond Cemetery, to mark graves and to refurbish the cemetery's chapel. The Weinberg Foundation continues demonstrating substantial generosity and support over the next decade, and Mount Richmond's historic chapel is renamed in their honor.
Plaque at the Weinberg Chapel at HFBA's Mount Richmond Cemetery.


1995 - The number of free burials grows to more than 400 a year due to the large immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union and makes HFBA the largest, most active free burial agency outside of Israel.
HFBA Information Card in Russian


2001 - HFBA relocates to its current location: 224 W 35th Street.

2009 - In our 121st year, HFBA buried 329 indigent Jews, the most since 1999.

Today - HFBA is well known to social service and health agencies that aid the elderly, frail, sick, mentally ill and homeless. To facilitate our work, we maintain close relationships with governmental agencies such as New York City's Public Administrators, the Human Resources Administration and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Tomorrow - HFBA remains committed to its unique, important work of ensuring that every Jew, no matter how impoverished or marginalized by society, receives the dignity of a traditional Jewish funeral and burial. Along with this, our founding mission, we renew our communal responsibility to maintain our cemeteries by restoring Silver Lake and the older areas of Mount Richmond, by rebuilding fallen monuments, and by ensuring all graves are permanently marked with respect.