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Why JOWBR?

The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) aims to catalog data about Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide, from the earliest records to the present.
JOWBR is a searchable database of names and associated information, including photographs of gravestones.
As of December 2013, JOWBR contains more than two million burial records from 4,200 cemeteries in 83 countries.
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Why Submit Burial Records to JOWBR (JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry)

  • It's a Permanent Archive for Burial Records.
    JOWBR acts as a virtual cemetery, where records will be permanently housed for researchers and family members to access information on Jewish burials.  It is unfortunate, but even in the U.S., cemeteries and landsmanshaft societies are abandoning their sections when there is no one left to keep the society records.  Some cemeteries are overgrown with natural growth and stones are in disrepair.

  • It's a Centralized Database for Researchers and Family.
    As the central search location for Jewish burial records, researchers and family members can find individuals in one central database, as opposed to calling or searching a multitude of sites.  On many occasions, people who are seeking information about relatives have no idea where they are buried.  By including records in JOWBR, researchers and family members will "discover" the burial sites of loved ones.

  • It's a Unique Source of Genealogical Information.
    Information on tombstones can not be found elsewhere.  One of the most important reasons for finding the location of a headstone is to be able to find the deceased's Hebrew name, as well as their father's Hebrew name.  For researchers with immigrant ancestors, this information will help in finding information in the "old country".  Hebrew name information can be accessed in one of three ways: 1) the name can be included with the record on our standard template; 2) a picture of the headstone can be linked to the submitted burial record, so the researcher can do the translation themselves; 3) at least knowing where the cemetery is, a researcher can visit or contact the cemetery, or other genealogists in the area, for additional help.

  • It's a Mitzvah.
    Plain and simple, it's a mitzvah.  In the figurative sense, it offers help to those who are concerned with preserving their Jewish past.  Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor thy father and thy mother...", and Jewish tradition offers loving guidance through deepest grief and a gradual return to the living, through the mitzvot of menachem aveilim and kavod ha-met, comforting mourners and providing dignity to the deceased.  Hebrew dates of death can also be used for yahrzeit.

  • It's a Potential Source for Additional Revenue Flows.
    Connecting relatives with ancestral cemetery plots may also result in additional revenues for the cemetery.  Cemetery administrators may use this communication with a relative as a way to raise annual care fees or inform relatives of pre-purchased and unused plots.  Some cemeteries have chosen to charge for taking photographs of headstones for researchers and family members who call the cemetery directly.  Although this might not be significant, it provides the possibility of generating additional revenue to the cemetery.

Other Considerations

  • Free and Available to All.
    JOWBR is interested in helping researchers and family members find information.  JewishGen does not charge any fees, and the information is available to everyone with internet access.

  • Ability to Increase Cemetery Web Site Traffic.
    For each of the cemeteries which JOWBR has burial records, you will find a "Cemetery Description" page.  The Cemetery Description page can be used to provide any information you would like the public to have.  For example, this description field can contain cemetery history, contact information, websites for additional information, public acknowledgments for the source of the JOWBR data, etc.  If a cemetery wants to give JewishGen only basic information for each burial (surname, given name, date of death) and then have researchers contact them directly, we are happy to do so, which should contribute to increased traffic to their websites.  If the cemetery does not want to be contacted for additional information, we can add a line stating that all available information is on-line and no further information can be obtained through direct contact with the cemetery.

  • Paper to Digital Conversion Assistance.
    JOWBR has a group of reliable volunteers who are available to help you covert your paper records to our digital spreadsheet format.  JewishGen will be happy to give you a copy of the finished spreadsheet, which you can use internally to help find information on site.

  • Never Lose the Rights to Your Data.
    Donors of data and or photos to the JOWBR database are asked to sign a standard JewishGen Donor Agreement.  This agreement permits JewishGen to incorporate your data into the JOWBR database.  It is a non-exclusive agreement, which does not limit your use of your data for any other purposes.  The Donor retains all underlying rights to their original data.


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