The weather couldn't have been better for JCAM's first Mitzvah Day held on Sunday, May 16th at the Baker Street Cemeteries in West Roxbury. JCAM's community Genizah (book despository), located at the Pultusker Cemetery chapel, opened its doors to the public from 10 a.m to 12 noon. Visitors were welcome to bring their worn out prayer books, siddurim, talmuds and other sacred artifacts, to be buried at the next scheduled book burial. (All materials containing the Hebrew name of G-d are buried at JCAM's annual book burial in October.)
Visitors had an opportunity not only to drop off their materials, but to look through some of what others have left at the Genizah. JCAM had a variety of books and artifacts on display for anyone to take home. (Many people drop off books in perfectly good condition that do not need to be buried.) Individuals, families, and some members of Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley were among the participants.
JCAM representative and tour guide, Lisa Berenson, also explained to visitors the significance of burying sacred materials and the importance of handling these items with care and dignity. After visiting the genizah participants joined her on a "Cemeteries Are For The Living" educational tour of the Zviller Cemetery to learn the meaning of various headstone symbols, the history and significance of Jewish cemeteries, and some of the customs and traditions surrounding Jewish cemeteries.
Normally, the Genizah is locked at all times. Those interested in dropping off materials, must call the JCAM office at 617-244-6509 during normal business hours to make an appointment for a JCAM representative to meet them at the Genizah. A small tax-deductible donation of $18 per box is suggested to help defray the high cost of book burials.
Click here to read JCAM's Guidelines and Regulations for depositing sacred materials at the Genizah.