Religious identification of unknown victims


Lisa McDavid

To avoid misunderstandings about my questions, perhaps I should begin by explaining that although I personally am Episcopalian (i.e., American form of the Church of England), I am partially of Jewish descent and interested in Jewish history and genealogy.

1. Other than Michel Navratil, Sr., whose assumed name apparently sounded Jewish to the authorities, does anyone know why the rest were thought to be Jewish? I note that besides Mr. Navratil, the two who have since been identified proved to be non-Jewish. In 1912 circumcision was rare among non-Jewish Europeans and North Americans. Since all ten of the burials in Baron de Hirsch cemetary are male, does this mean that Jewish identification was based on apparent circumcision? I saw a reference somewhere to the difficulties faced by a Halifax rabbi in identifying Jewish bodies. Can anyone provide further information?

2. The factor in common for unidentified Catholic burials in Mount Olivet looks from the coroner's reports to be possession of a crucifix. Does anyone have any more detailed information? I'm wondering if this means wearing a cross (without the figure of Christ), wearing a crucifx in the literal sense (with the figure) or having something like a rosary in a pocket. The reason I'm curious is that even in 1912 wearing a cross didn't necessarily mean that the wearer was a Catholic. Episcopalians/Anglicans, for instance, might do this. Does anyone know any more about the Catholic identifcation criteria?

Thank you for any answers. I appreciate them.

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