(click on links below to view a map of the roadways)
COVID-19 (CORONA VIRUS UPDATE)
To the Calgary Jewish Community,
As we enter the second year of the COVID pandemic, it is important to remember that special protocols remain in place to protect the safety of the community and our volunteers, and to comply with Alberta Health guidelines.
The emergence of new strains of the COVID virus that are more easily transmitted between individuals is a warning to us that the risk of infection has grown.
Our greatest concern today is maintaining safe social distancing at the cemetery. Since restrictions on the size of funerals and unveilings remain, we ask that people refrain from attending unless requested to do so by the family. Please wear a mask and gloves while at the cemetery. It is important to keep a safe distance from others who do not normally live in your household. Please resist the tendency to gather in close together. If you are participating in the mitzvah of burial, please keep at a safe distance until it is your turn to shovel.
While many businesses have placed physical barriers or circles on the ground to aid in social distancing, this is not practical at a cemetery. We do not want to interrupt a service to remind people about maintaining safe distancing.
Ritual washing of the hands with water after leaving the cemetery is insufficient to disinfect. We recommend that you use a hand sanitizer to thoroughly disinfect upon returning home.
We encourage everyone to get vaccinated as this will be the best strategy to defeat the pandemic. Yet we remind the community that vaccinations are not a 100% guarantee against transmission.
So, we implore our community and those that are attending funerals and unveilings… please, please respect the rules of social distancing to the best of your ability. Protect yourselves, the mourners and all in attendance from transmitting this virus to each other so that we can continue to fulfill the mitzvah of burial.
Finally, let us pray for an end to these difficult times and a return to our usual ways of honouring the deceased and comforting the bereaved.
A Voluntary Service to The Jewish Community
The Chevra Kadisha, literally “The Holy Society,” is Calgary’s oldest Jewish communal organization.
Its mandate to provide Jewish burial services and is the continuation of an age-old tradition of burying the dead with dignity, with proper ritual, and as a communal service. Over a thousand burials have been conducted by the Calgary Chevra Kadisha over a 112 year period, all by dedicated volunteers from every spectrum of the community.
The Chevra Kadisha was formed in 1904 when Calgary had only a few Jewish families. An infant, Goldie Bell, died. Her father, Nathan Bell, and Jacob Diamond approached the City and the Jews of Calgary purchased a small plot adjacent to Union Cemetery on 30th Avenue S., on what is now Macleod Trail.
The “Hebrew Burying Ground” cost the tiny Jewish community $160, a substantial sum for the time. There was one burial in 1904 and one in 1906, and there were seven in 1907. The original plot of land was expanded in 1907, and again in 1909.
When the Congregation House of Jacob was formed in 1907, the Chevra Kadisha was carried on by a synagogue committee (with essentially the same leadership). The community was growing rapidly, and in 1914 the Chevra Kadisha was incorporated as an independent society. First President was Charles Malkin.
Funeral services were conducted in a small building on the cemetery site, from private homes, and later at cooperating funeral homes.
The original cemetery continued to expand, and in 1943, the Chevra Kadisha took over management of a Jewish section of Queen’s Park Cemetery. In 1976, a third Jewish cemetery opened, and is owned and operated by the Beth Tzedec Synagogue.
In 1961, the Chevra Kadisha opened its own funeral chapel on 17th Avenue W. The Chevra Kadisha is now located at the North East corner of Highway 22X and 37 Street SW. Here women and men still religiously perform Tahara – the ritual care and preparation of the deceased – arrange the memorial service, and supervise burial.
It is a labour of love, and a dedication to faith and community.
101, 17818 – 37 Street SW, T2Y 0M9
Corner of 37 Street SW and Highway 22x ( Spruce Meadow Trail)
PHONE: 403-244-4717 (24 Hours)
President Bill Aizanman received a Shem Tov award from Calgary Jewish Federation president Bruce Libin June 21, 2017 in recognition of his years of service. Bill has been a Chevra Kadisha executive member for 26 years, serving as president for 23 years.
(NB: Since this photo was taken, Bill retired as president and is now Lifetime Honourary President.)