KEEPING UP WITH THE TIMES WHILE PRESERVING TRADITION –
WHAT’S NEW AT THE CHEVRA KADISHA?
(this article was originally published in the Calgary Jewish Free Press from information provided by the Chevra Kadisha)
The Calgary Chevra Kadisha continually faces challenges in order to keep current with the times while maintaining its commitment to following our religious traditions. The community, in this technology oriented age, expects immediate information when they learn of an unfortunate death. They want quick access to find out when and where the funeral will be held. Similarly, they also want to know when unveilings are scheduled. Or they may want to find out where a grave is located at either of our cemeteries and the security code and times of access for entry.
The Chevra is attempting to meet this demand by making a concerted effort to keep our website current. Readers can look online at www.chevraofcalgary.org to find out this information. They can also register their email address with the office to be placed on a fan-out for notices of upcoming funerals.
Even with the attention being paid to keeping the website current, unintentional errors may occur. Members of the community are encouraged to contact the office by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to advise of errors or updates. The Chevra states that they are a communal organization, and thank the community for their input.
This “News” section has been added to the website to inform the community of major developments at the Chevra. For example, the Chevra has successfully concluded negotiations with the province on a land swap to accommodate the new Southwest Ring Road. Details of the changes will soon be posted on the website under this “News” tab. Executive Director, Lou Bracey, notes that these land changes will be gradually phased in over the next three years, and when they are finished, the new cemetery grounds at 37 Street will be much improved and will serve the Calgary Jewish Community for well over another hundred years.
The Chevra is no different than other Jewish institutions in the city that have increased their vigilance to security. New electronic gates are being installed at the 37 Street Cemetery. The gates will be open during regular visitation hours which will be posted on a sign at the cemetery and on the website. However, the Chevra is discouraging driving into the cemetery on the Sabbath and Festivals and therefore, the gates will be locked on these days and access will be restricted to a pedestrian “man gate” situated beside the main gates. The Chevra strongly urges everyone to use extreme caution when the gates are closed and locked as there will be no parking available to visitors during these restricted times.
The Chevra Board of Directors has recently adopted another change. Individual families visiting the graves of departed loved ones have various practices to honour their relatives. Please note that it is not the local Jewish custom to leave flowers on gravesites, though some people do. However, the practice of leaving artificial or plastic flowers or glass or ceramic objects on graves has posed a risk to groundskeepers. If they are dislodged from the grave, they can jam or damage landscaping equipment. Additionally, these items are not naturally biodegradable. Thus, visitors are encouraged to refrain from this practice and are advised that these objects may have to be removed to maintain safety. The Chevra encourages all visitors to follow the custom by leaving a small stone (provided at each cemetery) on a grave to symbolize that the departed have not been forgotten.
The Chevra accepts donations as a way to offer condolences or tributes to others. Tax receipts can be issued for donations to the society. It is customary to honour the memory of departed loved ones through donations to charity, and what better donation can there be than to contribute to the perpetual care of the cemetery grounds.
“With respect for all those members of our community who are buried within these grounds”.
To The Attention of All Calgary Chevra Kadisha Cemetery Families
Please be advised of new rules and regulations regarding the placement of items on your loved ones grave site, headstone or foundation.
Effective May 1st 2017 in both our ERLTON AND 37th STREET CEMETERIES we will only allow fresh cut flowers (and /or, the small stones that we have available) to be brought in and set upon your family site.
Please remove all plastic, glass, ceramic, pottery and stoneware containers, and anything else that does not conform to our standards, including plastic or silk flowers, or other decorative items.
In addition, no plants in plant pots or plants or flowers may be planted or placed in or around the entire cemetery area.
As we approach the spring clean-up and Summer maintenance of our properties we encourage you to remove all of the above items by May 1st or we will remove, discard and place in the garbage bins on your behalf whatever is left on site after this date.
As a reminder, our drive-in cemetery gates at 37th street are open Sunday thru Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm daily.
The Main Gates will be closed on SHABBOS AND ALL JEWISH FESTIVAL DATES*.
*Pedestrian access will be available on these days, thru the side gates only, at both cemeteries upon calling our 24 hour answering service for the side gate code. Please call 403-244-4717.
“MAY THE MEMORY OF YOUR LOVED ONES ALWAYS BE FOR A BLESSING FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY”
CHEVRA KADISHA MANAGEMENT