05 September 2010

New York: A visit to Mount Carmel Cemetery

Are your relatives buried at New York's Mount Carmel Cemetery?

Tablet magazine takes a podcast look at the cemetery and sees how far American Jews have drifted - geographically and ritually - from their immigrant ancestors. There's also a slide show of photographs by Molly Surno, such as this one:
It is a High Holiday tradition for Jews to visit the graves of family members, say kaddish and leave a stone of remembrance.

Immigrant societies - landsmenshaften - in New York are buried in Jewish cemeteries established a century ago. Generations later, their descendants may also be there.

The 14-minute podcast discusses what makes a Jewish cemetery Jewish, who can be buried there, some famous individuals buried there, why more recent graves have no or little Hebrew inscriptions, design elements and meanings, fewer stones on gravestones and why, vandalism, varying intentions of older and younger generations, the role of the rabbi - or not - in the process, chevra kadisha and funeral homes, when to start thinking of one's future burial and where.

It features Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim (Brooklyn), who took Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry (and photographer Molly Surno, see the slide show) on a tour of Mount Carmel Cemetery in Queens, where some 85,000 New York Jews are buried.

Read the complete story, listen to the podcast, see the slide show here.

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