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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Local Jewish Cemeteries to be featured on PBS online and WCET

Worlds Greatest Cemeteries Roberto Mighty and Lee Drake - David Urbansky re-creator - Celestial Media LLC ©070122 IMG_0503 CROP.jpg
Courtesy Celestial Media LLC
"World's Greatest Cemeteries" host Roberto Mighty (right) poses with Lee Drake, a local Civil War re-enactor who portrayed Medal of Honor soldier David Urbansky during filming last summer.

An episode of 'World's Greatest Cemeteries' filmed last summer is part of the second season available on PBS app Feb. 19.

The legacy of Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz, whose Cincinnati-based Manischewitz company is known for Matzo and kosher wine, as well as Civil War Medal of Honor winter David Urbansky, gets national attention in the second season of World's Greatest Cemeteries available at PBS.org and on the PBS app starting Sunday, Feb. 19.

The one-hour show also will air on WCET-TV at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 16, one of three local programs airing before Holocaust Remembrance Day. Southwest Ohio's three Public Media Connect TV stations — Cincinnati's WCET-TV and WPTO-TV, and Dayton's WPTD-TV — do not plan to air the entire six-part World's Greatest Cemeteries second season, says Jim Wiener, program director.

Producer-host Roberto Mighty filmed the episode in late June early July at Jewish cemeteries in Covedale, Price Hill, Evanston and the West End.

"Cincinnati is a fascinating part of America. It is rich in history and stories. We're thrilled to include the history of Jewish settlement in this part of the USA," Mighty, a Boston-based filmmaker, told me last summer.

"I think our public television audience will be inspired by the story of David Urbansky, a soldier who was one of four Jews awarded the Medal of Honor for service during the Civil War. He is buried at Walnut Hills Cemetery," says Mighty, whose mother was born in Cincinnati and met her future husband at Wilberfoce College near Xenia.

Worlds Greatest Cemeteries Roberto Mighty Gary Zola ©Celestial Media LLC DSC01234.jpg
Courtesy Celestial Media LLC
Roberto Mighty interviews Gary Zola, executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, at the grave of Nelson and Helen Glueck.

Carrie Rhodus, operations manager for the Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati, who helped facilitate the filming, provides these details about the episode:

"Mighty begins and ends the episode with Cincinnati's first Jewish burial ground, the Chestnut Street Cemetery in downtown Cincinnati. Viewers hear the story of Joseph Jonas, Cincinnati’s first Jewish settler, who helped establish not only Chestnut Street Cemetery but also Kehal Kodesh B’nai Israel (later Rockdale Temple). While not buried at Chestnut Street, Jonas is now honored with a cenotaph there.

"In Covedale, Mighty interviews Jack Rabenstein, a Jewish Cemeteries trustee emeritus, about the story of Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz, who founded the Manischewitz Company in Cincinnati in 1888, Fannie Graff, a leader in the housing justice movement to fight redlining, and Abraham Goldhagen, a civil rights leader.

"In Price Hill, Nimet Jerusalmi shares the story of her late husband, Rabbi Isaac Jerusalmi, Professor of Bible and Semitic Languages at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Born in Turkey, he was an internationally renowned scholar and prolific author who influenced generations of students. Ms. Jerusalmi also explains the less-understood origins of Sephardic Judaism and its language, Ladino.

"Rabbi Dr. Gary Zola shares insights into various sects of Judaism and their burials, and speaks about high-profile interments at the Walnut Hills Cemetery, especially Rabbi Dr. Nelson Glueck and Dr. Helen Glueck. He was a famed biblical archaeologist and later, president of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, while she, a physician at the University College of Medicine, conducted groundbreaking research into bleeding disorders in newborns.

"A striking moment in the Walnut Hills Cemetery portion is the appearance of Lee Drake, a Civil War reenactor, portraying David Urbansky, the only known Ohio Jew awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Civil War."

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) is sundown on April 17 through nightfall on April 18.

WCET-TV's April 16 programming includes the Cincinnati Opera's Cabaret of Hope: Warsaw 1941 at 2 p.m.; Yom HaShoah: Remembering For Tomorrow – Carrying Stories Forward at 3 p.m.; and the World's Greatest Cemeteries Cincinnati episode at 3:30 p.m.

Rhodus encourages viewers to check out the episode while it's available for free. "After April 18, only PBS Passport members will be able to view the program. Hence, the 60 days prior to April 18 are a unique chance to see the program here at no cost," she says.

See trailers here for the second season World's Greatest Cemeteries episodes from Cincinnati, Louisville, the Bronx, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Concord, Mass. here.

The first season featured Hollywood Forever Cemetery; Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery; London's Highgate Cemetery; Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum; a Boston Revolutionary War graveyard; and the Chateau Monte Cristo near Paris. After watching the Spring Grove program, Rhodus invited Mighty on return here to check out the Jewish Cemeteries.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.