JCAM is a non-profit Jewish cemetery association that owns and manages 123 cemeteries in the Greater Boston area. We strive to:
These objectives are being accomplished through the efforts of a dedicated paid professional staff and volunteer elected officers and directors.
In addition, JCAM’s extensive, computerized database which houses the records of previously owned, independent or managed cemeteries, provides a practical and historical record of every Jew buried in the Greater Boston area. Our archive has become a valuable genealogical resource for people worldwide.
When JCAM was formed in 1984, it cared for 17 Jewish cemeteries, 5 of which were abandoned. Today we care for 123 of 222 Jewish cemeteries in Massachusetts; including the oldest (the Temple Ohabei Shalom Cemetery in East Boston) and newest (the Beit Olam Cemetery in Wayland). That is more than 50 percent of the Jewish cemeteries in Massachusetts. Over our 30-year history, JCAM has become an important Jewish cultural and historical resource. We are also the caretakers of the history of the Jewish Community, not only in the Boston area but throughout Massachusetts.
From the late 1800's through the 1940's, Greater Boston's Jewish community was a predominantly immigrant group that grew and prospered out of the shtetels of Eastern Europe and the ashes of the Holocaust. As these new Americans settled in Boston and the surrounding towns they built synagogues, formed landsleit organizations, and joined fraternal lodges. One of the first steps taken by these organizations was establishing and providing their members a Jewish burial site.
Gradually, succeeding generations merged and assimilated into the American mainstream. Many of the cultural and social functions these societies and clubs provided diminished in importance. These organizations may no longer exist today—but their cemeteries remain—an ever-stable reminder of these historic organizations. In addition, shifting populations caused many once-thriving congregations to close or move to new locations. The result was second generation associations with a single purpose - cemetery management.
Those associations who continue to be affiliated with active organizations are reasonably assured that future generations will carry on the work of their forefathers. However, the interests and concerns of third and fourth generation American Jews are vastly different from their ancestors. This is the reason independent cemetery associations have found succession difficult, if not impossible. Thus, they turn to JCAM to carry on the work.
Restoration is a foundation upon which the success of JCAM has been built. Since 1984 we have invested a large portion of our operating budget into cemetery restoration. Our efforts have been rewarded as hundreds of families have expressed their appreciation for our good work. Our restoration projects have demolished run-down, unused buildings to make way for additional graves and gardens. We have pulled up miles of concrete walkways that have crumbled dangerously through the years and replanted grass. We have replaced fences and gates that have been damaged through the years, brickwork that deteriorated over time. We repaired sprinklers, removed dead trees, fallen limbs and overgrown bushes.
In 2004, as part of JCAM’s 20th Anniversary celebration, we proudly rededicated the cemeteries on the Centre Street Hill in West Roxbury. Once abandoned by the community, JCAM accepted the responsibility for care and maintenance. Setting aside money through the years, we were able to perform a full restoration of the cemeteries in 2004.
In 2006, the JCAM Charitable Foundation, Inc. was established as a 501(c)3 organzation that supports the mission of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts in providing for the maintenance, restoration, and continuity of Jewish cemeteries. Furthermore, the JCAM Charitable Foundation is dedicated to the development, investment and disbursement of charitable funds for educational and historical purposes as well as community human needs projects and programs.
In 2006, JCAM took on the restoration project at the Ohabei Shalom Cemetery Chapel, situated on Boston’s first Jewish cemetery, established in 1844 (East Boston). The 1903 Chapel is in the process of being completely restored and converted into the future home of the East Boston Immigration Center—an interactive display dedicated to the Jewish communities of East Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Somerville, Winthrop and, of course, Revere Beach.
In 2010, the Beit Olam East Cemetery in Wayland, MA was consecrated providing 7,200 grave sites for both Reform and Conservative families. With changes in demographics and families moving to the Metrowest area, JCAM took the initiative and created an expansion of the existing Beit Olam Cemetery (1999) to accommodate the growing needs of the Metrowest Jewish community.
In 2013, The Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts restored to dignity the final resting place for more than 1,400 souls, most of whom were less than five years old when they died, at the Hebrew Charitable Burial Ground in Malden (1851)—the 2nd oldest Jewish cemetery in the State. There are only 150 monuments on the cemetery as most of those resting there are in unmarked graves. With the help of master craftsmen, JCAM pieced together the broken fragments of downed monuments and instituted a memorial brick campaign to mark the walkway of this once abandoned cemetery with the names of each child buried in an unmarked grave. The outpouring of kindness and interest in this "mitzvah" project from the community has been wonderful. This act of loving-kindness dignifies the life of a forgotten child and helps us restore this historical Jewish cemetery.
While we have been a quiet success story for Greater Boston’s Jewish community, we are proud of our accomplishments. When needed, we provide graves for the less fortunate of our community, many free of charge. Because of our success, we provide a model of cemetery management for other Jewish communities throughout the country. Most importantly, we respond to the need for Jewish tradition and continuity as Chevrat K’vod Hamet, the guardians of our dead.
In more than 30 years, JCAM’s umbrella has grown from the initial five abandoned cemeteries to more than 100. One by one, independent cemetery associations in Massachusetts that have difficulty recruiting successive volunteer cemetery managers, have chosen to merge or be managed by JCAM. Your support of our efforts is crucial to our ongoing success. All donations to the JCAM Charitable Foundation are tax deductible. Thank you.
We appreciate our sponsors who help us with our mission to protect and enhance Jewish history through cemetery preservation. If you need help in any of these areas, click below to find information to reach them.
From advance need planning to cemetery and chapel services.
Bankers, and insurance specialists.
Monument design, installation and maintnenance.
Landscape design, maintenance and tree services.
Our wide network of community services.
Specialists in Historic Preservation.