Simsbury shul created the state’s first interfaith cemetery
In reading the Ledger’s article about Connecticut Jewish cemeteries and the introduction of sections for interfaith burial (“Bloomfield Synagogue to Add Interfaith Section to West Granby Cemetery,” Ledger, June 12, 2015), I thought back to 1984 when I had dealt with this issue in the launching of the Memorial Park of Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom (FVJC-Emek Shalom).
The Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation Memorial Park is situated in Avon, and is the cemetery of FVJC-Emek Shalom in Simsbury. It is situated on land donated to the congregation from the company in Simsbury then called Ensign Bickford. The Ensign Bickford company also donated the land on which the temple’s Simsbury building itself resides. The cemetery opened officially in 1984. It was the hope of the synagogue’s founding member Sidney Cohen to have a cemetery where, being ill himself, he thought he would have been the cemetery’s first burial.
Tragically, Sidney’s son Robert, killed one night in a terrible car accident, was the first burial there.
A cemetery Board of Directors was chosen and cemetery by-laws were created. As rabbi, I was an adjunct advisor to the cemetery Board of Directors. We debated long and hard about cemetery rules and one of those thorny issues was about interfaith burial in a Jewish cemetery.
It was always my stance that interfaith burial should be permitted. I was not able to see, back in 1984, how a congregation could accept interfaith married couples into the synagogue community as full members and then deny them burial in the cemetery. It made no sense to me. I battled that issue with the cemetery Board of Directors for nearly a year before they acceded to interfaith burial. We became the first Jewish cemetery in the state of Connecticut to permit burial of interfaith families within the bounds of the cemetery proper. Since that time many such families have come to us and have interred their loved ones within the cemetery boundaries. Since that time numerous Jewish cemeteries in the state have followed our lead and have begun to permit interfaith burial.
Our cemetery has to date only developed half of its property. The piece of land donated by Ensign Bickford was 9.5 acres in total. Currently, 4.5 acres are developed for burials, which leaves about five acres of undeveloped land to use for expansion should the need arise. The cemetery Board of Directors currently meets four times a year to deal with cemetery business and issues that arise.
The chairperson of the cemetery, Wendy Saffer, has ably steered the cemetery directors for the past 12 years. The cemetery is as beautiful and well functioning as it is today because of her efforts. Anyone who has ever dealt with Wendy has been awed by not only her expertise but also by her compassion and empathy.
Rabbi Howard S. Herman DD
Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom
Is Hillary ‘kosher’?
Regarding Ron Kampeas’ article on Hillary Clinton (“Election 2016: Hillary Clinton and the Jewish community,” Ledger, July 3, 2015): So, Hillary likes kosher food, has Jewish friends and her daughter is married to a Jewish man. Does this make Hillary kosher? Where does Hillary stand on Israel’s borders? Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? The Iran nuclear issue? etc.
Perhaps if she made her positions known she may be considered ‘treif.’
Rabbi Rosenberg will be missed
Nice job regarding the article about Aaron Rosenberg’s retirement (“Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg of Temple Emanu-El in Waterford retires,” Ledger, June 26, 2015).
My family belongs to Emanu-El and we have all aged in place with Aaron and will miss him very much. Fortunately for all of us who know him, he and [his wife] Karen will not be moving out of the area.
Thank you again for featuring him in the Ledger.