Sunday, March 29, 2009

A resting place?

If you are searching for your Jewish ancestors in cemeteries, be aware of Jewish tradition and law pertaining to burial issues. This may complicate location of graves in some cemeteries.

Jewish cemeteries, depending on denomination and tradition, may have separate sections for men and women, thereby precluding husbands and wives to be buried next to each other, some have separate sections for children. Traditional Jewish law forbids cremation, and a non-Jewish spouse or relative may not be buried in a traditional Jewish cemetery.

Liberal Jewish cemeteries around the world allow practices not permitted by other denominations, such as Conservative (Masorti) or Orthodox.

Historically, the liberal movement (also called Reform in the US or Progressive in other countries) - founded in 19th-century Germany - holds more liberal views as to membership requirements, intermarriage and other issues, including cemetery regulations.

In the UK, the Liberal Jewish Community of Prestbury (Gloucestershire) - founded last year - has been granted its own plot of land at Cheltenham Cemetery, in Bouncer's Lane. The established Jewish cemetery is only for Orthodox Jews and cremation is not permitted.

According to this article, the "all-inclusive" cemetery means that Jews (and non-Jewish family members) of all denominations can be buried side-by-side in a recognised Jewish burial ground for the first time in Gloucestershire county. It will be dedicated on April 19.

The chair of the community, David Naydor, was quoted:

"We aim to offer an inclusive brand of Judaism, which includes giving our members a choice when they die. Jews in the county can now be buried next to husbands, wives and family members of other religions in an all-encompassing Jewish cemetery.

"It also allows for cremation, something which is not an option for orthodox Jews."
Read the complete story at the link above.

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