Maintaining Tradition

by Josh Kerr | Dec 20, 2022

Beth Jacob Synagogue ensures cemetery stands the test of time

The Jewish community has deep traditions to honour those who have gone before us. Protecting this caring tradition has been on the minds of the Regina community for some time now. As a community, it’s important to take note of, consider, and appreciate what we have.

Beth Jacob Synagogue in Regina is proactively taking steps to ensure that no matter what happens 10, 100, or 1000 years down the road, their cemetery, an essential part of their community, will continue to be maintained.

“How do we ensure these pillars of our community are preserved appropriately and respectfully,” asks Rabbi Jeremy Parnes. “Imagine our cemetery being left without forethought or plans about its management so it will never run into disrepair.”

This question and thought brought them to the JFM, with whom they already had a connection as recipients of a grant to help maintain the Yahrzeit board and cemetery for Moose Jaw’s Jewish Community.

In 2022, Beth Jacob Synagogue opened an organizational endowment fund at the JFM to help support their cemetery in perpetuity. They chose the JFM rather than a local foundation because of the JFM’s understanding of Jewish Communities and the support offered to help them launch their fundraising campaign.

The idea of perpetual care for the cemetery came to light with a generous donation from the Rosen family, who were a part of Regina’s Jewish Community for many years before moving away. This gift allowed for the creation of a new pavilion, now the entrance to the cemetery. After the pavilion’s completion, there were still funds left over, which were put directly toward the maintenance of the cemetery.

Rabbi Parnes explains that this process got them thinking. “There may be several small Jewish Communities around Canada, each with their own assets. Who will look after them if those communities no longer exist?”

Organizational endowments at the JFM are essential in ensuring the vitality of Jewish organizations and culture. They make it easy for organizations to reach out to their community of supporters and provide the stability needed to ensure the essential community pillars will thrive in the years to come.

“What we’re doing may be an initial model or concept into a much larger reality for some smaller communities going forward,” says Rabbi Parnes. “The creation and investment into our endowment at the Jewish Foundation is a key part of that.”

The Beth Jacob Congregation has made a good start with the help of funds set aside for the care and maintenance of their cemetery and initial gifts from generous community members.