By Sander Rikleen, President,
Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts
Stan Kaplan: "To begin, please permit me to introduce you to our President, Mr. Sander Rikleen.
Sander has worked tirelessly for JCAM for many years. He has also served as our lead council as a volunteer, making Sander the largest donor of professional services ever in JCAM’s 28 year history and the abuse continues! We are indeed fortunate to have Sander on our team. JCAM’s Attorney and President, Mr. Sander Rikleen."
Rikleen: "Welcome to the rededication of the 2d oldest Jewish Cemetery in Massachusetts. I am the President of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts. JCAM cares for more than one-half of all Jewish cemeteries in Massachusetts, including the oldest Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts (in East Boston) and the newest (in Wayland).
"JCAM does not just care for cemeteries – we are caretakers of the history of those and the broader Jewish Community. Because of Jewish restrictions on burial practices, establishing a Jewish cemetery has always been one of the first steps taken by the Jewish community.
"All Jews are required by Jewish law to be buried in land that has been purchased and consecrated exclusively as a cemetery for Jews and their immediate family members. Where there is no properly consecrated local cemetery, observant Jews transport the body of the deceased to a community which has such a cemetery. For this reason, before there was a proper Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts, the deceased were transported to Newport, Rhode Island or New York for a proper Jewish burial.
"As far back as 1735, nearly 100 years before there was even an organized Jewish community in the Boston area, two Jewish residents of Boston established a “Burying Ground . . . fenced in to the Jewish Nation”. They contemplated a very small “Jewish Nation” because the cemetery was no larger than 10’ x 10’.
In 1844, only one year after it was organized as the first Jewish Congregation in Massachusetts, Ohabei Shalom purchased land for its East Boston Cemetery.
"The pattern is similar elsewhere. In Chicago, where my father first lived after coming to the United States, the first Jewish organization was the Jewish Burial Ground Society, founded in 1845, just two years after the first permanent Jewish settlers arrived in Chicago, and two years before the first Jewish Congregation was founded there.
"The land for this cemetery was purchased in 1851 by Shaar Hachayim Association of Boston, and the first burial is believed to have taken place in July 1852. This cemetery is unusual because for most of its life, it was a burial place for Boston’s poorest Jews, unable to afford even a headstone. I encourage you to read the materials about the cemetery on the kiosks we have installed.
"I would like to acknowledge some of those whose efforts have made this event possible:
Dr. Jeffrey Kraines. He approached JCAM about 2 years ago, seeking to follow the example set by his father, Sidney Kraines, who had supported the Hebrew Free Burial Association of New York. Dr. Kraines was looking for a similar project to support in Massachusetts. He made the initial donation which made this project possible, and has continued to be a supporter of this project.
"Attorney Edward Rainen, a native of Malden. Ed, his wife Shelly and their daughter Carrie, all real estate attorneys, have helped JCAM on a number of projects. Ed researched the real estate title for this cemetery and directed us to others who grew up in Malden who might be interested in this project.
Beth Israel Senior Housing (Stan Caras, Co-Chairman Grants Committee), made a generous gift to support this project. This organization learned of the project from Ed Rainen.
"The City of Malden has enthusiastically supported this project, and helped with the arrangements for this event.
Susan Sherman, a volunteer who spent countless hours in the mid-1980s researching the history of this cemetery and identifying the individuals who are buried here even though most do not have headstones."
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