The Shmooze

Ritzy Philly Cemetery Makes Room for Jews

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share

At least these locals won’t think, “There goes the neighborhood.” After 141 years, the ritzy, goyish West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia is inviting Jews to consider it as a final resting place. The September issue of Philadelphia magazine reports that those who plan to spend forever there — “as much of Philadelphia’s who’s who do — received a ‘Dear Lot Holder’ letter: The 141-year-old -Quaker-founded, nondenominational cemetery would be adding a section ‘to meet the burial … needs of the Jewish faith.’”

According to the cemetery’s website, “the Jewish site will accommodate 1,500 burial spaces including a significant portion for the Orthodox, traditionally among the strictest of Jewish denominations.” Philly-area Jews lack expedient funeral options, the site explains. “Since the early 1950s, when the trickle of Jews emigrating from the city to the Philadelphia suburbs became a steady stream, the Jewish community of the Main Line and its adjacent areas has had to travel some distance for traditional burials, an inconvenience at an already difficult time when Jewish custom dictates that burials occur as quickly as possible after death.”

Plans for the Semitic section had first been made public two years ago; Deborah Cassidy, West Laurel Hill’s director of sales, marketing, and family services, told Philadelphia that demand has grown. “We had a number of neighbors who wanted to be in our cemetery, but because of their faith, they felt they couldn’t,” she said.

Seventy-three of the new lots have been pre-purchased, Philadelphia noted with a wink: “Real estate like that doesn’t stick around for eternity.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Jewish Burial, Philadelphia, Cemetery

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.