Report on the 4th Annual JCANA Conference

The JCANA Conference held in New York City on June 3-June 5 was attended by cemetery and funeral directors from across the United States and Canada, including California, Michigan, Maine, Virginia, and Ontario. The sessions provided information and opportunities for participants to share ideas and to network. Among other subjects, practical topics included "Cemetery Accounting Best Practices," "Ask the Lawyer" and "Maximizing Return on Cemetery Investments." Topics specifically related to Jewish themes included "Exploring Jewish History through Our Sacred Burial Grounds," "Jewish Ethics" and "Historic Cemetery Preservation and Community Outreach." On a field trip to Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens, participants had a chance to meet with, and learn from, the dedicated staff which continues to maintain this old, yet active, cemetery at a very high standard.

JCANA's mission is to create a community with common practices and goals, partnering with peers to exchange information and ideas towards the ultimate goal of creating and maintaining dignified Jewish burial grounds.

We look forward to having representatives from even more organizations join us next year at our annual conference in Toronto.

For more on the conference, please visit our website:

Let's Share Information...
How does your cemetery bury inter-married couples? Is the non-Jewish spouse buried with the Jewish spouse? Are they buried together in the main part of the cemetery or in a section designated for this purpose? Please share your policy with other JCANA members by e-mailing Your responses will be included in our next JCANA e-newsletter.

More than three generations of Jewish families, dating to 1918, have been buried in Clover Hill Park Cemetery, located in Birmingham, Michigan. It may be said that the history of Jewish Detroit can be traced as one walks through the gates of this cemetery as well as those of Beth Olam Cemetery (aka The Smith Street Cemetery), over which Clover Hill has guardianship, where graves date back to 1848.

Clover Hill was founded by Congregation Shaarey Zedek, a synagogue affiliated with the Conservative movement. Although Jews of all affiliations are welcome, burials and policies conform to Conservative Jewish practice. This includes the policy of having no above-ground burials, and requires that blended families in which a member is not Jewish according to matrilineal descent (or was not converted to Judaism according to Conservative guidelines) are buried in a specially designated area in the cemetery. Since Conservative Judaism emphatically discourages cremation, cremains are buried in the earth in a separate section divided by shrubbery from the rest of the cemetery.

Clover Hill does outreach to synagogues and Jewish organizations in the Detroit area. Each year its staff hosts a Memorial Day event for ninth and tenth grade students from the local day school. Students come to the cemetery to meet with, and speak to, veterans of World War II as well as the wars in Korea and Viet Nam and to place flags on the graves of veterans throughout the cemetery. Clover Hill also holds a pre-High Holiday service led by a rabbi who teaches from the Torah, gives a sermon and leads prayers. All are welcome, those whose loved ones rest nearby, and anyone else who wants to connect to their past and to their heritage at this important time of the Jewish year.

Clover Hill's website ( is notable for its on-line listing of all the names and dates of death of its occupants as well as its comprehensive description of Jewish mourning and burial practices, a valuable resource for anyone interested in the topic.

In the last issue of the JCANA e-newsletter, we asked our members to share marketing strategies. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Create affiliations with local synagogues. Visit and speak about Jewish burial practices, end of life issues and pre-planning. After a specified number of members of an individual synagogue are buried by the JCANA member, make a donation to the synagogue.
  • Send postcards to those on your lists about pre-planning funeral and burial costs. Follow up with phone calls and appointments.
  • Target the 55+ age demographic.
  • Invite the public to see the grounds, pointing out special features of the cemetery.
  • Use a designated part of the grounds for on-site funerals and memorial services which has the benefit of introducing visitors to the cemetery.
  • Place ads and articles in local Jewish newspapers.

Jacob the Patriarch spent his last years in the land of Egypt, having fled famine in the land of Canaan (later, Israel) to the country in which his son Joseph was a viceroy in the court of the Pharaoh. As his death neared, he blessed each of his twelve sons and made them promise to return his body to his homeland and bury him in his ancestral vault. This emphasizes the human need to be buried with one's people and the Jewish mandate to be interred in ground set aside for, and sacred to, Jews. JCANA members honor Jacob's promise by burying his descendants in Jewish cemeteries consistent with ancient Jewish burial rites, with the dignity all souls deserve.

JCANA's member organizations cross the denominational spectrum. United in their goal of assuring each Jew a dignified burial in a well-maintained space, JCANA's mission is to assemble, organize and share information which will ensure the preservation and maintenance of Jewish cemeteries across North America. JCANA is committed to the identification, preservation, and continuity of Jewish cemeteries as well as educating the community about Jewish burial practices and end of life issues in a Jewish context.

Our members are part of a large network of Jewish cemeteries, each of which faces similar challenges. By sharing information about common concerns, such as management issues, financial matters, government regulations, marketing strategies, relationships with local Jewish organizations and Jewish burial practices, we help each other maintain the most efficient and effective cemeteries to meet the needs of the Jewish community.

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