JCANA Newsletter – Spring 2014

JCANA Newsletter – Spring 2014

Message from Stan Kaplan, JCANA Chairman
Membership Has its Privileges!

When you become a JCANA member, you not only join leading Jewish cemeteries across North America dedicated to preserving Jewish cemetery continuity, you also receive exclusive benefits as a member. Like special discounts on vendor products and services, access to JCANA member archives, valuable model contracts, programs and management forms that govern our cemeteries each and every day.
JCANA membership is simple and affordable based on annual interments:

Under 100 interments – $195.00 annual dues
100-200 interments – $250.00 annual dues
200 + interments – $395 annual dues
So help us sustain our Jewish cemetery traditions and sacred burial practices while benefiting from our vendor partnerships and our management experience by joining us today!

I look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles at our 6th Annual JCANA Conference May 4 – 7, 2014.


Stan Kaplan

Let’s Share Information…
In our last issue of the JCANA Newsletter, we asked our members:
Do you have an on-site chapel that can be used for funerals and other services? What events do you use it for?

Most JCANA cemeteries do not have a chapel. However those that do, use it, or a similar space, for such events as the service before a graveside interment, annual memorial services on the Sunday between the High Holy Days, a collation following an unveiling, community-wide commemorations on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day and even community concerts and lectures.

6th Annual JCANA Conference

Registration is now open for this year’s JCANA Conference to be held at the Crowne Plaza Beverly Hills. The keynote speaker will be Rabbi David Wolpe, named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post.

As in the past, the Conference will feature notable speakers and important topics such as “Cemetery 101: Operating a Jewish Cemetery for Synagogue Administrators,” “ Interfaith Burial and Cremation in Today’s World,” “The Mortuary Process: What Happens Before a Burial” and many other relevant issues. A guided tour of the Breed Street Shul and historic Boyle Heights led by members of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California as well as sightseeing tours of Hollywood/ Beverly Hills will also be offered.

Registration information and a more complete list of lectures and activities are available at: https://jcana.org/jcana-conference.

Spotlight: New Mt. Sinai Cemetery Association
In 1850, the B’nai El Congregation in St. Louis, MO. purchased land to accommodate a cemetery for the area’s growing Jewish population. By 1888, two other Reform congregations, Shaare Emeth Congregation and Temple Israel had joined the Mt. Sinai Cemetery Association which, that year, re-incorporated under the name New Mt. Sinai Cemetery Association. To this day, the members of the Board of Directors of the cemetery, New Mt. Sinai, come from the ranks of the founding congregations, although the cemetery is an autonomous entity.

New Mt. Sinai holds the remains of over 11,000 people, and with 52 acres, of which only 35 have been developed, it is estimated that the cemetery has enough grave space for the next three centuries. Since the Jewish population has moved to other parts of the city over the years, New Mt. Sinai promotes the beauty and history of the cemetery and its convenient location.

The cemetery follows the traditions of the Reform community. Although only a Jew by matrilineal or patrilineal descent may purchase a grave site, anyone, Jewish or non-Jewish, may be buried in the cemetery. Accommodations are made for the few burials performed by Orthodox and Conservative rabbis.

By the 1880’s, wealthy Jewish families in St. Louis were building private mausoleums for above ground burials. Thirty-five such structures, holding the remains of two, three and even four generations, had been erected in New Mt. Sinai by the mid-twentieth century. However, by the 1960’s, these mausoleums became prohibitively expensive and so, to accommodate the growing trend, New Mt. Sinai built its unique Community Mausoleum in 1969. The original space had room for over 300 crypts for coffins and 72 niches for cremains. In 1990, to meet the rising demand, the Mausoleum added 675 additional crypts and 320 niches.

The dominant feature of the mausoleum is the stained glass “Window of Truth” at the back of the 200-seat Chapel. This gorgeous work of art was created out of hand made, mouth-blown glass, and measures approximately 17 feet high and 20 feet across. It is composed of thirty panels, containing over 3,500 individual pieces of glass. The window is based on the three Hebrew letters aleph, mem, taph, which spell the Hebrew word emeth, meaning truth.

In this beautiful space, funeral services and memorial services are held. On the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a commemorative service honors all those who were buried during the previous year. On the weekend before Memorial Day, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and war veterans gather to honor the 800 war veterans buried at New Mt. Sinai, dating from the Mexican-American War of the 1840’s to the conflict in Afghanistan.

As one of the oldest existing Jewish cemeteries west of the Mississippi River, New Mt. Sinai Cemetery is a popular place to visit. Visitors can walk or drive to the Community Mausoleum, the Veterans Memorial Garden and Monument, the original Chapel (1905), the House of Comfort (1916), and the burial sites of some of the historically significant members of the St. Louis community.

For more information about New Mt. Sinai Cemetery, see their website, www.NMScemetery.org.

What Do You Think?
Do you think that the rate of intermarriage in the Jewish community is affecting the number of burials in your cemetery? Do you believe that this is so because many Jews married to non-Jews, and their families, elect to be buried in a cemetery that is not specifically “Jewish?”

Please share your thoughts with other JCANA members by e-mailing newsletter@jcana.org. Your responses (which can remain anonymous) will be included in our next JCANA e-newsletter.

Bible Bit:
One of the most poignant scenes in the Hebrew Bible is found at the end of Deuteronomy. After G-d tells Moses that he will not enter the Promised Land, he goes up to Mount Nevo and looks across the entire parcel of land in which the tribes will settle. He dies and is buried by G-d “in the valley, in the land of Moav.” In this short passage, G-d performs, so to speak, the ultimate act of lovingkindness, chesed shel emet, the burial of the dead, “no man knows his burial place till this very day.” The people of Israel mourned their leader, the only person about whom it is said that he “knew G-d face to face.”

Jewish Cemeteries in the News
An article in the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action described the recent discoveries of abandoned Jewish cemeteries in Newburgh, NY and Mahanoy, Pa. The New York Times cited a book, A Traveler’s Guide to Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries of the California Gold Rush by Susan Morris which takes the reader on a journey through Jewish burial grounds of the old American West. And the New York Jewish Week reported on a Jewish cemetery, long abandoned and neglected, on the former site of the Central Islip Psychiatric Center in Long Island, NY which will be restored under an agreement between NY State and Touro Law Center, the current owners of the property.

For general information, please contact: stankaplan@jcam.org
For membership information, please contact: rzuckman@cloverhillpark.org
Please visit our website: www.jcana.org