Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vanishing Burial Societies and Cemeteries

There was an interesting article in the New York Times this week. It was a discussion about the impact of the vanishing Jewish burial societies. As the community members grow older and eventually die, there are fewer people available (or willing) to coordinate the administrative and burial traditions.

The Jewish burial societies that sold the gravesites no longer have administrators. They were founded by the immigrant ancestors of the people now caught in this bind, the societies, in effect, have died.

The article says " When Mrs. Marmor visited her deceased husband’s cemetery plot in Flushing, Queens, one afternoon, she found that someone had been freshly buried in the spot next to his, where she had planned to rest someday. No one could tell her why."
" Mrs. Marmor, 76, said that when she asked the cemetery director what happened to her plot, he told her it had been sold by the president of the burial society, who had since died. "
Luckily for her she found out that the plot on the other side of her husband is available.
Right now, the Jewish burial societies have an office mandating their final wishes. But one question is who will take care of those other abandoned cemeteries? Who is responsible for the long-forgotten community cemetery or family burial site that is way off into the woods?
I was searching for an old cemetery here in the Richmond Texas area. All I see is new homes being built. Where I think the road to the cemetery should be is blocked off by a construction company. What has happened to this century old cemetery?
There is an interest in old cemeteries by people like us, but we go and take pictures, blog about the headstones, write about these people and for the moment they are with us again . I may wipe off the leaves or touch the stone of a soldier long gone. But then I leave to go home. What will happen to that old cemetery in the future? No one knows, but as a society we have to care about our cemeteries.

Our country is what it is because of those who walked before us. They may not be with us any more but they lived , loved and died. We must cherish their memory and their last resting spot.

This is just one person's opinion though.

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