In Akron’s Jewish history, it is unclear just how and why Sherbondy Hill Cemetery was founded, when there was already a Jewish section at Glendale Cemetery and South Street Cemetery existed. We know it was started by The Orthodox Jewish Cemetery Association, which was incorporated on October 26, 1907. On White Street in Akron, the Orthodox Jewish Cemetery was dedicated three weeks later. Just who the founders were and how they came to find and fund this plot of land seems to have been lost with time. The official name is the Orthodox Jewish Cemetery, but it is commonly known as Sherbondy Hill. While no members of the Sherbondy family are buried at the cemetery, members of the family did own and live in that section of Akron before the turn of the century.
Sherbondy Hill became tied to Congregation Ohaiv Shalom of Barberton, which purchased a significant number of lots when it was established in 1915. That begs another question: How did Jews, or enough Jews to start a synagogue, end up in Barberton?
At the turn of the century, the city of Barberton needed merchants to serve people who had moved there to work in the Diamond Match factory. Many Jewish families moved from Pittsburgh to set up grocery and retail stores. Thus Congregation Ohaiv Shalom was founded in 1915. Over the years the congregation had over nine rabbis, most staying less than three years, but the Gabbi, Adolph Recht, was a constant for many decades. Many of the congregants were, in some way, related to one another.
Many of the founders of the congregation are buried at Sherbondy Hill Cemetery, as well as many of their descendants. In fact, about 1,000 people are currently buried at there. Today, burials still occur but normally number less than ten annually. Plots are still available.
While Sherbondy Hill Cemetery is still active and the building that housed Ohaiv Shalom still stands on Wooster Road West in Barberton, The Orthodox Jewish Cemetery Association and Congregation Ohaiv Shalom have been gone for decades. Yet, the efforts of those who founded and participated in these two organizations still impacts our community today.
In 1961, the Jewish population had moved to Akron and elsewhere and a congregation was no longer viable in Barberton. The building was sold and the proceeds were sent to Israel. The Torahs were gifted to Anshe Sfard/Revere Road Synagogue. Eventually Sherbondy Hill Cemetery was deeded to the Jewish Federation of Akron (now the Jewish Community Board of Akron). Some money was transferred for cemetery upkeep, but in today’s dollars it is not enough to do more than mow the grounds. Last year’s crowdfunding campaign to benefit the restoration of Sherbondy Hill went a long way to restoring it to a place of respect, though the funds are not enough for long-term upkeep.
If you have any additional information about the founding of Sherbondy Hill Cemetery, please contact Julie Katz at Julie_Katz@jewishakron.org. If you would like to contribute to the cemetery fund please send a check to JCBA Cemetery Fund c/o JCBA 750 White Pond Drive Akron OH 44320
Many thanks to Sandy Recht Schoemann of Dayton, Ohio for her help with information about Congregation Ohaiv Shalom.