NEWTON, Mass., Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 200 people turned out on a sun-splashed Sunday (September 10, 2006) in East Boston to hear the JCAM Charitable Foundation's plans to restore the historic Ohabei Shalom Cemetery chapel into the future home of the Mystic River Jewish Exhibit Hall. The chapel stands at the grand entrance of the first Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts, Temple Ohabei Shalom Cemetery, founded in 1844.
Keynote Speaker and former Democratic National Committee Chair, Steven Grossman, kicked off the event by speaking of his forebears -- many who are interred within the historic cemetery -- noting the life lessons he has learned from their wisdom. Among other distinguished speakers were Vicary Graham, Mellon's Regional President and JCAM's sponsor for the event; Massachusetts State Senator, Robert E. Travaglini and Boston City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina who presented JCAM President, Sander A. Rikleen with a proclamation from Boston's Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
JCAM's Executive Director, Stanley Kaplan, spoke of the importance of preserving the century-old Jewish landmark as a living memorial to the thousands of first generation immigrant Jewish families who struggled and sacrificed to make life better for future generations. Other activities that day included guided historic tours of the cemetery by Genealogist Judith L. Caplan. Professor Ellen Smith of Brandeis University and co-Editor of The Jews of Boston presented restoration plans for the exhibit hall. Adults and children of all ages gathered under a canopy to listen to Jewish folklore tales by noted Storyteller, Bonnie Greenberg, and those wishing to learn about Jewish cemetery symbols and their meaning were met by JCAM's Director of Development, Lisa Berenson for an educational tour.
The joyful sounds of a "klezmer" band invoked some to get up and dance the "hora" while others chose to listen and "nosh" on a bagel. All attendees received a commemorative bag containing JCAM's latest guide to Jewish cemeteries, chapel restoration information, and free t-shirts celebrating the day.