Depending on the timing, religious affiliation, geography, cost, and a number of other factors, choosing a type of cemetery may vary. Selecting a Jewish cemetery is a unique decision that is generally made only once during a lifetime, but impacts future generations. Cemeteries provide varying levels of services, types of burial options, and memorialization options that should be considered. Selecting a Jewish cemetery is a personal decision for the individual, next-of-kin, family, the community of mourners, and for future generations. A Jewish cemetery should honor the decedent in a respectful manner and provide a peaceful and dignified place for visitors and mourners to gather. A cemetery is required to fulfill the contracted functions now and perpetually.

Important factors to consider when selecting a Jewish cemetery:

  • Religious requirements
    • All Jewish (general)
    • All Jewish (Shomer Shabbos)
    • Interfaith Sections
    • Non-Denomination
  • Geographic location and proximity to family, friends and the funeral home
  • Type of memorialization
  • Military benefits
  • Type of care (perpetual versus ongoing)?
  • Burial options available
    • Traditional burial
    • Above ground entombment
    • Accommodations for cremated remains
  • Available facilities (staffed office, restrooms, maps)
  • Visitation hours
  • Cemetery ownership and governance

Questions to Consider Asking When Selecting a Cemetery?

Each type of Jewish cemetery is designed and organized to reflect the levels of religious observance, culture, traditions, and habits of the local Jewish community that it serves. The changing differences in both burial traditions and legal regulations has led to the creation of many different types of cemeteries.

  • What types of burial are offered? In Ground? Mausoleum Entombment?
  • What is the range of costs?
  • What the cost of the cemetery committal service?
  • What type of memorialization is allowed, per section?
  • Are there are any restrictions?
  • Is the cemetery a perpetual care cemetery? If so, what does perpetual care cost?
  • What is the current balance of the Perpetual Care Fund?
    *An improperly maintained cemetery may cause emotional pain for visitors and may result in unexpected financial maintenance costs. A cemetery should be financially managed in a prudent and responsible manner. Determine if there is active management, board or association to ensure long term financial responsibility.
  • Are there governing Rules and Regulations? If so, is a copy available?
  • Are there bundled packages?
  • Is pre-payment offered? at what interest rate? are costs guaranteed?
  • What funeral homes frequently come to the cemetery?

Purchasing a Plot (Grave) and Associated Services:

In order to ensure that a Jewish cemetery is operating according to local and state requirements, all agreements made with a cemetery and all purchases made with a cemetery should be in writing with copies retained by both the buyer and seller. Purchases are required to include the specific burial location designations and should explicitly define what goods and services are included. It is advisable to review the rules that govern the rights and limitations of property owners. During the selection process it is appropriate to request a copy of the cemetery rules and regulations, association’s rules or any documents that may have an impact on the purchase, maintenance or sale of a plot (grave). When purchasing a plot (grave), it is important to know and understand how the manner and cost of ongoing maintenance and preservation of the cemetery. There are various types of perpetual care programs that may be available or offered through the cemetery. In certain instances, the level of care may be included as part of the purchase of the cemetery services. Alternatively, there may be an annual fee assessed.