The Jewish Advocate – April 16, 2010 – Ten of the Jewish cemeteries along Baker Street in West Roxbury were still under as much as a foot of water earlier this week in the aftermath of last month’s storm. Even with two water pumps, more than a third of the Baker Street Roadway is impassable.
“We’re looking at maybe 30 days before burials can occur in those cemeteries,” said Stan Kaplan, executive director of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts, which owns 24 of the 39 cemeteries on the Baker Street burial ground.
For families who cannot bury their loved ones due to the flooding, JCAM is offering free plots at the Puritan Cemetery, which is on a dry section of Baker Street. Families must bear the cost of disinterring the bodies to move them back to family plots once water recedes.
Kaplan does not expect the road to be open to funeral processions until at least Sunday. The Baker Street Roadway Association is paying for buses to transport people and caskets to the cemeteries.
April 9, 2010 – The Jewish Advocate
By Elise Kigner, Advocate Staff
Large swathes of the Baker Street Jewish Cemeteries in West Roxbury were underwater after the Charles River overflowed during last month’s storm. “It’s quite a Noah’s Ark out there,” said Stan Kaplan, executive director of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts.
The association owns 24 of the 39 cemeteries that maker up the Baker Street burial ground.
The flooding undermined gravestones and other monuments and filled at least one chapel, Kaplan said.
It delayed burials, a tricky problem as Jewish tradition calls for interment as quickly as possible, ideally within two days.
One Orthodox man who could not be buried next to his wife in the family plot in Koretzer Cemetery was temporarily placed in the nearby and drier Puritan Cemetery after the family consulted with Rabbi Abraham Halbfinger, administrator of the Vaad Harabonim.
Another family was forced to delay the burial for three days due to a combination of the flooding and Passover. Bodies cannot be buried on the last two days of Passover, according to Jewish tradition. The plot had been drained and a liner installed at rains-soaked Temple Emanuel Cemetery in Randolph.
Water has damaged the floor and walls of the chapel in the David Vicur Cholim Cemetery in West Roxbury.
“Many of these chapels have historic value, and we’re very sensitive to the history that needs to be preserved. We’ll do everything we can do to preserve and restore.” Kaplan said, adding that he couldn’t yet estimate the cost of repairs.
The association will bear the cost if the family that owns a damaged monument can’t be found.
“I would say we have a major restoration project on our hands,” said Kaplan, who added that this was the worst flooding he had encountered in his 26 years on the job.
Seth Anapolle, president of the Koretzer Cemetery, found ducks swimming around the gravestones last week.
Cemetery workers will need to level the gravestones, and possibly replace footings, Anapolle said. As it doesn’t expect to find many of the families, the cemetery could end up spending up to $10,000 for repairs.
To donate to the cemetery association, visit www.jcam.org or call 617-244-6509. To donate to the Koretzer Cemetery, called 617-364-9900, ext. 205.