Perpetual Caring

Sadly, the neglectful& conditions the editorial describes (“Words Alone Do Not Suffice” March 1, page 3) exist everywhere. In Chicago, the oldest cemetery, Waldheim, has occasional volunteers who come to clean up, and some descendants pay for perpetual care. Waldheim tries its best to& maintain the very large grounds. It also sends out letters to registered visitors to pay for the largely absent perpetual care.& But, as many of the (often broken)& headstones can date as far back as the later 1800s, or earlier, many descendants are, unfortunately, no longer Jewish. Or they are so assimilated that knowledge of, or interest in, Jewish ancestors (a fair number of whom were Shomer Shabbos) is nonexistent. In other words,& the deceased are orphaned ancestors.

This doesn’t exist in the frum world. Having visited one old& cemetery in Nyirbator, Hungary, in 2006, [I can attest that] there are several graves that are well tended, aside from the ohel of the Teitelbaums, including that of a great-great-aunt of my husband, whose family in N.Y. and elsewhere clearly care, and visit. Most others are neglected, or broken and overgrown, because their& descendants were murdered in the Holocaust.

The bottom line, aside from the importance of& visiting, is spending the money to aid the cemetery companies, if they still exist, to maintain the grounds, and in& repairing broken headstones. Whether non-relatives should& allocate money& for maintaining the kevarim of previous& generations,& including some& who were noted Rabbanim bereft of identifiable Jewish doros, is a larger question to pose to poskim.

Yocheved Lieberman, Chicago