I’ve been going to Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City visiting the graves of my family’s ancestors for decades. Sadly, in more recent times, my husband and I visit the graves of some of our immediate family as well.
I’ve always been pleased with the way the cemetery has been maintained. They do such a great job of weeding, mowing and just general maintenance and upkeep of the grounds of this wonderful, sacred, historic old cemetery.
What can really be seen in this cemetery however, beyond the day-to-day maintenance, is vast deterioration due to its age. It is this that I wish to shine a light on.
The front gates are in desperate need of repair and painting. The stone wall on Hanley Road is collapsing. The roots of old, rotting trees lifted monuments and buckled sidewalks, making them hazardous to walk on.
It takes a lot of money for these kinds of repairs and restoration caused by sheer aging of the grounds and trees. This goes way beyond normal perpetual care.
The Jewish community, at least those who have family/ancestors in this cemetery (which is just about every one of us), need to be concerned and I hope, offer to help.
For more than 130 years, Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in U. City has been the final resting place for many of our beloved family members and ancestors. We owe it to them, our Jewish community and to ourselves to do something.
This sacred Jewish burial site must be maintained for all time. This land is passed on from generation to generation. Even if we don’t go there very much or even at all, this land, this cemetery, is our responsibility.
Our community should come together to assist Chesed Shel Emeth Society with the much-needed restoration. While every notfor- profit organization needs our support, let’s add this historic cemetery to our list. If not us, then who?
From rabbis making announcements from their pulpits to Jewish businesses that have the ways and means in construction and the like; from the commitment of Jewish philanthropists to something like a communitywide Chesed Shel Emeth U. City Cemetery Go Fund Me and, of course, individual online donations — let’s pitch in and help.
When I was little, my grandparents lived across the street from the cemetery at Hanley Road and Melrose Avenue. My grandfather cared so much about the cemetery that he would sit on a chair just inside the gates before the High Holidays and ask for donations … and he got them!
I understand that a cemetery is not exactly foremost on everyone’s list as something to donate to. I also understand that not many “new” funerals even take place there anymore.
All the more reason for all of us to help out. It’s a part of our heritage and respect for our ancestors.
The graves of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents are there. It was their “White Road” (the street where the newer Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in Chesterfield is located). Their final resting place. We owe them so much.
Let’s come together to get this sacred cemetery in the best shape possible. It takes a village!