When religious articles such as siddurim, Torah scrolls, talitot, tefillin, and Judaica items bearing the four-letter Hebrew name for God become worn out or are no longer used, it is not permissible to simply throw them in the trash. Instead, they are put to rest in a genizah (Hebrew for “storage”). Historically, a genizah would be set up in a separated and closed room of a synagogue or in a cave. In modern times, a genizah is commonly a grave in a Jewish cemetery, with the burial ceremony similar to that given to a person.
On Sunday, Oct. 18, at 1 p.m., the Norwich Hebrew Benevolent Association (NHBA) will hold a communal genizah ceremony in Cemetery No. 1 on Route 12 in Preston. Rabbis Scott Saulson of Temple Emanu-El in Waterford and NHBA board member Julius Rabinovitch will officiate at the brief ceremony, which will conclude with the recitation of Kaddish. The last NHBA genizah burial was in 2008.
All members of Connecticut’s Jewish communities are invited to attend the genizah ceremony and are welcome to bring appropriate items to be added to the grave. Articles for burial should be placed in fully biodegradable bags or cartons and brought to the site.
Communal Genizah Ceremony: Sunday, Oct. 18, 1 p.m., Norwich Hebrew Benevolent Association Cemetery No.1, Route 12, Preston. To help NHBA determine the size of the grave needed, reservations are required. Call Jerry Schwell at (860) 464-8288.
CAP: On a crisp autumn day in October 2008, Jewish community members gathered at the Norwich Hebrew Benevolent Cemetery in Preston for the genizah burial of approximately 30 boxes of worn out religious books and other items.