Jewish Journal

Jewish cemetery accused of desecrating 500 graves

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 12, 2009 | 3:21 pm

Eden Memorial Park isn’t L.A.‘s biggest Jewish cemetery, but it’s up there. And this week it was dragged into Los Angeles County Superior Court, accused of desecrating the final resting places of 500 Jews:

Attorney Michael Avenatti, who filed the suit, told CNN that his investigation revealed that as many as 500 graves may have been torn up without the families’ permission.

“We allege that Eden Memorial Park and its management for the better part of 15 years were engaging in improper burial practices, including the desecration of graves and the improper disposal of human remains,” he said.

The lawsuit is filed by F. Charles Sands, whose parents are buried at Eden Memorial Park, against the cemetery and its owner, Service Corporation International, based in Houston, Texas. The company is the largest owner of cemeteries and funeral homes in the United States.

This is not the first time Service Corporation International has faced allegations of digging up graves and moving bodies to make room for new remains. It reached a $100 million settlement with families of people whose remains were desecrated at Menorah Gardens in Florida. The company also reached a $14 million settlement with the Florida state attorney’s office over issues related to those claims.

The CNN report goes on to mention that Groucho Marx and Lenny Bruce are buried at Eden, but somehow offers no perspective on Jewish burial customs. It closes with a quote from the lawsuit that states “the deceased are typically required to be interred within 24 hours, thereby leaving little time to obtain consent to move an encroaching vault in an adjacent plot and giving defendants a motive to desecrate human remains and commit other immoral acts rather than comply with the law.”

Suffice to say, disturbing the dead is not kosher. Baruch dayan emet.

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