Jewish tradition gives us specific instructions to have respect for the dead to watch over and clean their bodies, to sit shiva, say Kaddish and to remember the departed. In Los Angeles however, our rabbis and community leaders obviously missed that lesson in the Talmud because they are out partying and vacationing on their huge salaries while hundreds of gravestones of Jews from our community are broken and in ruins.
At the Mt. Zion Cemetery in East Los Angeles, hundreds of graves are broken split in pieces either by vandals or time. After the LA Times' Hector Becerra, wrote an article about it last week, I met the only person in LA who deserves the title of Rabbi and the only Rabbi that gives a Shit! Rabbi Moshe Greenwald of Chabad of Downtown LA and I walked together in shock as we surveyed the damage to our brothers and sisters buried in this sacred ground. There are no words to describe headstones that are pushed over on their side and smashed in pieces. Hundreds of them! Other graves completely missing their headstones. Where is the outrage? Shame? Disgust? Outcry?
The cemetery which closed some years ago was apparently abandoned by the owner. Since then the Jewish Federation has had some responsibility over it giving a few shekels a year to clear the brush. I guess the Federation really doesn't care about the final resting place of the former members of the Jewish Community of Los Angeles some resting there for over 90 years, cause they be dead. Are you listening Jay Sanderson, so called Head of the Jewish Federation who makes over $600,000 a year plus benefits? And the other so called big shot Jews that work there? Can you spare a few shekels to fix this SHANDA? Where is Rabbi Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center? It's only a Shanda if he can make some money of it huh?
Last week a Jewish cemetery in Moldavia was vandalized and a few gravestones destroyed by anti-semites. I’m sure that Rabbi Hier is on the case, with cameras rolling. He never misses an opportunity to be in front of a camera. Expect an envelope to arrive in the mail requesting money from him shortly in the guise of Anti- Semitism.
My Yiddles and Yiddletes this is in our community. All ya'll pay big bucks to be buried. "I want to be buried where the sun hits me under the tree" and pay thousands of dollars for that privilege. But what happens in 80 years from now when none of your relatives are around to visit or care for your upkeep? It’s up to the community to take care of its dead when all the surviving relatives are long gone.
The good Rabbi and I and a group of other outraged Jews decided we will do something about this SHANDA because our conscience dictates that we must. We are doing what must be done and we will need help. Lots of help! Just to fix the tombstones will be tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, most of the approximately 7,000 other tombstones that are still standing need to be cemented to their base.
The heads of the Federation have known about this problem for sometime now and chose to do nothing. Out of sight out of mind in East LA. They can't spend their precious funds on dead people when their top execs need a raise. C'mon now those folks are dead.
This is Shameful! Therefore, it is up to us the good people of our community to do the right thing and show respect for the dead. Let's not piss of G-d any further!
PS- A core group of concerned individuals including Rabbi Greenwald and myself with the support of Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry and Speaker of the California Assembly John Perez will be getting together on Sunday April 28thto discuss what we will do to fix this deplorable situation.If you are interested in helping please contact myself or the Rabbi. Rabbi firstname.lastname@example.org or LiAmi – email@example.com