…at least different to what one (at least for me) usually finds while hunting down cemeteries. In a small suburban/rural New England town, I had heard of a “family” cemetery on a particular road. On exploring the location of this small cemetery, I discovered a large “Polish National Catholic Cemetery” to the right of it and behind and to the left…….an all Jewish cemetery, The Israel Brotherhood. Neither were on the “list” I had gotten of the town graveyards!
It was truly awesome, as in “full of awe” and not the modern slang meaning “cool” although it was that as well. Being a student Kabbalist and begining to learn the Hebrew alphabet, it was stunning to see all the Hebrew on the stones along with other symbols of faith such as lions, trees, and of course the Star of David.
The stones were close set and many had pebbles, sea glass or other objects placed on them. I knew it had some tradition behind it but I didn’t now what. I asked a Jewish friend of mine who said :
The rocks and other things are instead of flowers. Flowers die.
When someone dies in the Jewish faith, also, there are no flowers on the casket or in the home of the grieving. The flowers would need care and the grieving persons shouldn’t have to worry about anything but grieving. Also, again, flowers die.
There are other reasons behind the tradition that date back thousands of years to desert living. I also found out that in the Jewish tradition, the body is to be buried as soon as possible after death, preferably before sunset of the day of death and that embalming and cremation are forbidden.
After some research and information given to me by another friend, I was intrigued by the differences in Jewish burial traditions from the primarily Christian ones I was familiar with. I highly encourage you to go to this GUIDE TO JEWISH FUNERAL PRACTICE which is very informative and detailed yet stated in an easily understandable manner. Other good links shall be supplied below.