Sacred Ground by Susan Jacobs, Director of Education

On Sunday, April 7th, Temple Beth El Religious School third grade students and their parents took a field trip to The Hebrew Cemetery of Charlotte. Our third graders have been learning about Jewish life cycle events all year and the rituals around death and burial are part of their studies. This is not an easy or comfortable subject matter to discuss.

The Hebrew Cemetery is rich in history and was the first institution founded in Charlotte in 1867. Many of the first Jewish citizens are buried there as well as Jewish soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. Of course, many of us have loved ones who are buried there, and we feel a deep connection because that is their resting place.

So why did we decide to take these young students to visit the cemetery? We take them because if they visit before they experience the loss of someone close to them, then the cemetery is not a scary or sad place. It gives them a chance to learn and think about the holiness of the Jewish ritual of Taharah, the purification of the body. Rabbi Knight and Brian Yesowitch were there to explain the process and rituals to students and their parents. Students and parents also had the opportunity to ask questions and share their own stories.

Temple Beth El Religious School is grateful to the Hebrew Cemetery Association for hosting this important trip and for taking time to give us a tour of the grounds and the beautiful chapel.