14 July 2010

Green-Wood's Bid for Canarsie in Tablet

Over at Tablet Dina Mann put together a concise synopsis of the ideas in play with regard to Green-Wood Cemetery's bid to get the rights to the Canarsie Cemetery.

The original framing came from Josh Nathan-Kazis' story over at the Forward.

It's a very important story in the community and despite the difficulty of engaging with matters of death, there is much value in it.  The reality is, Jewish law does allow for the burial of non-Jews in a Jewish cemetery who did not practice another faith; there are reputable Jewish legal authorities who ruled in favor.  But the bulk of the tradition has opposed it, mostly on the grounds of keeping people in the fold.  My view is that decisions like this do little to ensure Jewish continuity and in fact inflict more harm and alienation than we need.

Thanks to Dina and Josh for keeping this story on the radar screen.


Ron said...

Andy, is cremation ever ok? All of the Holocaust imagery makes it problematic for relatives of victims/survivors I know, but what do the good books say, if anything?

Andy Bachman said...

Cremation is forbidden by Jewish law but not because of the Shoah; rather, because it's considered a desecration of ouir bodies AND the Pagans do it. (What are the chances--as I write this I am at a red light in Mt Prospect CHI outside the Cremation Society of Illinois--WEIRD!) Some Jews do it regardless (my policy is to try to dissuade because of my strong belief in Jewish cemeteries as places of vital cohesion) and would like to see Jewish cemeteries show a greater willingness to inter ashes.