Outstanding support through JCANA member networking!

Representing over 300 cemeteries across the United States and Canada, JCANA offers you an unmatched knowledge base of Jewish cemetery practices, proven management policies and procedures, valuable marketing programs, investment strategies for endowment fund growth and demographic insights that can help you plan for the future. Nowhere else can you receive so much support for so little investment.

As leaders in the Jewish cemetery community, we are inviting you, our readers who have not yet done so, to join JCANA. The time has come for all of us to record our sacred burial ground locations, prevent future abandonment and serve as a clearinghouse for the perpetualization of Jewish burial practices in accordance with Jewish law and custom. You can be a partner in this sacred enterprise by joining us and receiving outstanding support through member networking.

Go to: http://www.jcana.org/join-jcana and thank you for being part of JCANA.

Stan Kaplan

When JCAM (the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts), currently directed by Stanley Kaplan and overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors, was formed in 1984, it began with the administration of 17 Jewish cemeteries, five of which had been completely abandoned. Today, JCAM administers 110 of the 209 Jewish cemeteries in Massachusetts, including the oldest (the Temple Ohabei Shalom Cemetery in East Boston) and the newest (the Beit Olam Cemetery in Wayland). JCAM has also become an important Jewish cultural and historical resource, caretakers of the history of the Massachusetts Jewish community.

The second oldest Jewish cemetery under JCAM’s care is Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground in the Maplewood neighborhood of Malden, a suburb of Boston. It was founded in 1851, as a final resting place for Boston’s poorest immigrant Jews, who came to the United States during the major waves of emigration from Eastern Europe in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Although these refugees from persecution and poverty came to build new lives, many of those lives were cut short due to illness and unsafe working conditions, frequent side effects of extreme poverty. Children in particular were especially vulnerable to poor sanitary conditions, the spread of illness and the absence of effective medical treatment.

The Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground is filled to capacity with over 1,400 graves, including 760 infants who did not survive their first year on earth and 679 children and teenagers. Over the years, many groups tried to manage the cemetery, which had no endowment and no assets, only the liability of its annual maintenance. In 1949, it passed to the auspices of the Jewish War Veterans, Malden Post #74 and in 1990, the Vets approached JCAM with its substantial resources to take over the cemetery. Once again, JCAM assumed its role, and fulfilled its mission, of preventing the abandonment, and ensuring the care, of any Jewish cemetery in the state.

The restoration of this small burial ground in the heart of one of the oldest Jewish communities around the Mystic River began in 2012. Malden residents, both Jews and non-Jews, members of Greater Boston’s Jewish community , as well as state and local representatives, solidly backed this effort. Donors, large and small, stepped forward to participate in this mitzvah. Because of the extreme poverty of those who rested in its grounds, only 150 graves were marked and these broken, fallen monuments were repaired by JCAM. Although a list of the decedents exists, there was no way to know exactly where a particular individual is buried as no map of the cemetery layout survived. To address this issue, JCAM initiated a “brick-by-brick” campaign in which one could sponsor a brick inscribed with the name and date of death of a “forgotten” child to symbolically memorialize their brief life. These bricks line the main walkway of the cemetery and the campaign continues until all those buried are recognized.

The refurbishment culminated in the creation of a children’s memorial garden and sculpture of three children sitting on a log, holding a stick with a butterfly. The historic cemetery was officially rededicated in 2013.

The Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground’s future as an essential part of Massachusetts Jewish history, is secure. And the many hundreds of souls who rest there are guaranteed never to be forgotten.

For more information about the Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground or to donate a memorial brick in the name of one of the children interred, please go to their website: www.jcam.org, and, specifically, http://jcam.org/Pages/HCBG/photos.php and http://jcam.org/Pages/HCBG/rededication.php.

JCANA advocates for Federal legislation to protect Jewish cemetery rights while contesting any legislative act that would infringe on religious freedom, especially as it would affect Jewish cemeteries. In 2010, JCANA was called upon to participate in a national coalition of religious groups fighting the passage of HR 3655, the Bereaved Consumer's Bill of Rights Act. Had it passed, this legislation would have endangered the core American principle of separation of Church and State and would have an impact on how religious cemeteries could operate.

As a nationally recognized organization, JCANA will continue to be involved with issues pertaining to the operation of religious cemeteries throughout the United States.

According to the International Jewish Cemetery Project of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, "The first mention of Jews in connection with the islands which ultimately became the 50th U.S. state was in 1798, when a sailor on the whaler Neptune recorded in the ship's log that the Hawaiian king had come aboard and brought ‘a Jew cook with him.’ It is believed that Jewish traders from Britain and Germany arrived in the islands in the 1840s. They were later joined by Jews from California at the end of the 19th century. However, it was not until 1901 that the Hebrew Benevolent Society and a cemetery were established. In 1938, the Honolulu Jewish community was formed, and this was followed in 1951 by the consecration of a Reform synagogue.”

In the Book of Job, the title character is afflicted with the deaths of his children, the loss of his wealth and terrible illness. His wife begs him to “bless God” so he may die and be spared further suffering. The sentence is incomprehensible without knowing that “bless” in this case is a euphemism for “curse” and that cursing God made one guilty of a capital offense. Although Job begs for vindication and an understanding of God’s seemingly capricious cruelty, he refuses to curse God and remains a steadfast believer in an inscrutable deity.

JCANA wishes all its members and friends a
very healthy, happy New Year in a peaceful world.

For general information, please contact Stan Kaplan: stankaplan@jcana.org
For membership information, please contact Amy Koplow: akoplow@jcana.org
To send information or suggestions regarding the newsletter, you may e-mail newsletter@jcana.org

Please visit our website: www.jcana.org