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Burial of Shamos at New Camden Cemetery Set for Oct. 29

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Burial of Shamos at New Camden Cemetery Set for October 29

On Sunday, October 29, burial of Shamos will occur at New Camden Cemetery in Camden. The Jewish Community Foundation oversees the Jewish sections at the cemetery and has provided support to Congregation Sons of Israel in coordinating this ceremony.

The following lightly-edited article was provided by Sid Goldberg of Sons of Israel:

A tattered page of a Siddur (prayer book), a well-worn Chumash, an old Parochat (Ark Curtain) and a yellowed volume of the Talmud. What do they have in common? They are all Dvarim Sh’b’kdusha – Holy objects and need to be handled with proper respect. Although they may no longer be used, their holiness remains within them. We refer to them as Shamos – as they contain the holy name of G-d in Hebrew. We take care of Shamos by burying them.

On Sunday, October 29, a burial of Shamos will take place at 10:30 at New Camden Cemetery adjacent to a designated area from previous Shamos burials by Congregation Sons of Israel in Section J (see map at right). The rain date is set for Sunday, November 5.

Synagogues gather Shamos throughout the year. “Sometimes, however, we can find multiple boxes at the synagogue door when we arrive in the morning. Generally this happens when someone is moving or after a family member passes away” said Sid Goldberg, Congregation Sons of Israel – who has been leading this effort. “Suddenly we can have lots of Shamos to take care of."

This started out as a project for Congregation Sons of Israel and Politz Day School. Other organizations have now become involved including Foxman Torah Institute, Chabad, Torah Links, Young Israel and Lions Gate. Others may participate as the date approaches. Special thank you to the Jewish Community Foundation for their support as they maintain the New Camden Cemetery.

Rabbi Michael Davies, of Congregation Sons of Israel, relates “Jewish Wisdom teaches us that things we cherish, even when their useful life has come to an end, we must treat them with the utmost respect and thereby return them to the ground from whence it came. This is the case for the body, which carries a person through their natural, physical lifetime. This is also the case for the writings of our tradition, and particularly those containing the name of the Divine. This is an opportunity for both action and education in this lesser known but very important area of Jewish life and practice.”

“What an amazing Mitzvah!! Our efforts have multiple objectives regarding Shamos. Of course, proper burial of the Shamos is primary. However, we wanted to educate adults and children as to which items require burial versus handling by other means. Lastly, we want to have children involved in the burial. Their first experience at a cemetery should not have to be for the burial of a loved one.

In fact, Politz Day School will be conducting a program related to Shamos, Chevra Kadisha, and Jewish cemeteries.

“Often the first experience for young people at a cemetery is at a time of loss and tragedy," said Rabbi Greenwald, Head of Politz Day School. "One of our goals is for our students to experience visiting a cemetery which is a necessary part of the life cycle at a time when they can process and learn about the way Judaism treats a person with utmost respect in life and after life.

"The holiness and respect we give to our holy books and Dvarim Sh’b’kdusha that are no longer used applies as well to the physical body. At a time when many people are choosing alternatives to traditional burial often due to a lack of knowledge of the Torah approach to afterlife, we want to empower and educate our students in this necessary aspect of our tradition.

"We hope to learn about those who came before us through the history of the Jewish community of Camden by seeing the headstones and hearing from members of our community who grew up in Camden."

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