The Bes Almon Society was the first Jewish cemetery in Western Pennsylvania and is widely considered to be the first Jewish organization in the region. It was organized in 1847 by a group of 12 men, all recent arrivals to Pittsburgh. On June 12, 1847, William Frank, David Strassburger and Emanuel Reis purchased a plot of land in present-day Reserve Township on behalf of the organization for $300.Allegheny County Deed Books The current address of the cemetery is 2518 Mt Troy Rd.
The founders of the Bes Almon Burial Society, as it was eventually known, later became leaders in Shaare Shamayim Congregation and its successor Rodef Shalom Congregation. The Bes Almon Society remained an independent entity for years, adopting bylaws in 1881. The organization transferred the property to Rodef Shalom Congregation in 1906.Allegheny County Deed Book-Vol. 1517, Page 135 Rodef Shalom continues to manage the cemetery today, as well as its larger successor West View Cemetery.
The proper English transliteration and translation of “Bes Almon” has been a source of dispute. The historian Jacob Feldman translated it as “Mourner’s House,”Feldman, Jacob. “The Jewish Experience in Western Pennsylvania.” and others have translated it as “House of the Widower.” The historian Ida Cohen Selavan reviewed the founding documents of the organization and determined that the original name was most likely intended to be Bes Almin, a version of an Aramaic phrase meaning “House of Eternity.” “A Mistake in Transliteration,” The Jewish Chronicle, Sept. 24, 1992. The property is known today as the Troy Hill Cemetery.