What happens to cemeteries that were originally maintained by now defunct synagogues and burial societies? For decades, Federation through the Jewish Cemetery Management Corporation in the Heart of NJ (Cemetery Corporation), has overseen several of these sites — from landscape and repairs to insurance and burial operations.
Recognizing cultural and demographic trends increasing such needs, Federation and the Cemetery Corporation have established a relationship with the nonprofit Community Alliance for Jewish-Affiliated Cemeteries (the Alliance) to plan, fund, and implement long-term solutions for cemeteries before they become neglected.
One synagogue president recently said, “Our leadership is unsure where we’ll be in 5, 10, 15 years. We want to make sure those who came before us — many who built our synagogue — are cared for in perpetuity.”
“Those who built and thrived in once vibrant Jewish communities deserve the same guardianship we want for our own loved ones,” says Mike Wasserman, Federation board member and president of the Cemetery Corporation. “Even if a synagogue comes to the end of its life cycle, community responsibility for the care of a cemetery never ends.”
Two major provisions of the new agreement with the Alliance are how to make sure there is enough money to maintain the grounds in perpetuity, and to have a succession plan for management of the cemetery.
Mike invites anyone interested to join in this important effort, either by volunteering time, serving on the Cemetery Corporation board, or sponsoring needed cemetery projects.
For more information, contact JewishCemeteriesHNJ@gmail.com.