ORLANDO, FL (PRWEB) July 12, 2005
After four years of observations, the International Society for Sephardic Progress has released a White Paper entitled "Examination of the State of Affairs of the Sephardic Burial Plots of Mt. Hebron Cemetery." The paper is meant to document for the sake of history, the current condition of the cemetery where the largest number of Sephardic Jews in North America are buried. Among the observations documented in the paper, is that damage has occurred over several years both caused by environmental as well as criminal mischief.
Mt. Hebron is the Jewish portion of the Cedar Grove Cemetery which is a non-sectarian association, the location of the largest burial plots for Sephardic immigrants that arrived from the crumbling Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. The first grave was interned at Mt. Hebron on April 14, 1909 and as of 2005 it had 217,000 burials. Even with the protections offered by the State, the condition of the Sephardic plots at Mt. Hebron Cemetery are in an ever-increasing state of detriment. After 90 years of continual use, the tombstones, iron gates, masonry, footstones and identification markers, which delimited the Sephardic graves, are deteriorating rapidly
Shelomo Alfassa, commented on the release of the report, "We are hoping that the Jewish community takes note of the problems, some which have been unreported for many years. We must aggressively take actions to help mitigate against further damage, the time is ripe. Jewish congregations, genealogists and community members should all be interested in helping to take corrective action."
The paper was released on the heels of a visit on Tuesday July 5, 2005 coordinated by the ISFSP. On a field trip to the Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens, New York. Together, the group visited at least five different major Sephardic plots as well as the grave of the former Chief Rabbi of the Central Sephardic Community of New York, Rabbi Nissim Joseph Ovadiah. Rabbi Nissim Elnecave of Brooklyn, an expert in reading Ladino in Rashi "square" Hebrew characters participated, as did Tonia Leon-Hysko, Ph.D. a Latin Americanist and Tony Cuccia, former New York City Police Officer who both provided useful insight while visiting the cemetery.
The report, "Examination of the State of Affairs of the Sephardic Burial Plots of Mt. Hebron Cemetery" is located on the Mt. Hebron Memorial Page at http://www.isfsp.org/hebron.html.