Planting flowers on a grave is indeed not a Jewish tradition– neither is being buried in an Anglican cemetery like St. James in Carleton Place. According to Jewish law, a Jew should be buried among Jews. It is forbidden for a Jew to be buried in a mixed- denomination cemetery, or in a cemetery that allows the burial of questionably converted Jews. In St. James Cemetery there lies a grave belonging to those with Jewish heritage– the Rosenthals. The caretakers told me for years there was no official record of this grave, but it is now included on the list with all the other gravestone markers.
Should a situation arise where a non-observant parent or loved one acquired a plot in such a cemetery, a rabbi who specializes in this area of Jewish law would be consulted. Katherine was buried at St. James Cemetery, but was Edward laid to rest next to his wife Katherine? I would like to think their relationship had The Notebook ending but I don’t think it did.
A kosher grave is one in which the casket is laid directly in the ground, and covered with earth until it is full and a small mound is formed on top. The grave should be at least forty inches deep, and wide and long enough for the casket. Above-ground burial is strictly forbidden according to Jewish law, and Kabbalahadds that all alternative burial options interfere severely with the eternal rest of the soul. There is no mound at the Rosenthal’s grave.
Some Jewish communities bury their loved ones in family plots, or side-by-side in the case of a spouse. Other communities will bury men and women in separate sections. Both of these approaches are permissible. So the question remains– is Edward’s body there? Maybe the inscription was never done, or were children’s opinions involved after his death? Maybe his body is buried in some Jewish cemetery away from his wife?
Besides involving several transgressions, it is seen as following in the way of the gentiles.On all tombstones one adds the Hebrew letters תנצב”ה, which in acrostic form means “May his (her) soul be bound in the binding of life.” Others write on the heading פ”נ , which means “Here is buried.” None of that is on the small discreet Rosenthal marker at St James Cemetery.
Many people of Orthodox Judaic faith still rely on the services of professional mourners today. When a relative dies, strict Jewish laws require mourners to go to the temple every day to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish. Families employ a professional mourner, usually an elderly gentleman to cite the prayers for them. According to our local caretaker, no one comes to the grave of the Rosenthals, Of course it is very possible that Katherine never converted to Judaism– but why would your husband’s name be on the marker. My biggest question is– how could you not be buried next to your husband for eternity? Because I do not know the answers to any of these questions, I have become their dedicated unofficial unprofessional mourner. To which I say:
Ha’makom yenahem etkhem betokh she’ar avelei Tziyonvi’Yerushalayim –which means “May God console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”.