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Clifton and Mount Nebo Kaddish & Geniza Ceremony

Sunday, October 24, 2021 18 Cheshvan 5782

10:00 AM - 12:00 PMClifton & Mount Nebo (Totowa) Cemeteries

What is a Geniza? | Why Put Items Into a Geniza? | Why Bring Kids to a Graveyard?

10 AM | Clifton Cemetery | 20 View place, clifton
11 AM | Mount Nebo Cemetery | 195 TOTOWA ROAD, Totowa

The Cemetery Committtee, Barnert Temple Sisterhood & Men's Club, and Barnert's Renaissance Group are proud co-sponsors of this very unique program.   


We will begin the morning at 10 a.m., meeting at our Clifton cemetery.  Established in 1847, it is the oldest organized Jewish cemetery in New Jersey and was the first piece of property purchased by Barnert Temple.  We will gather, learn a bit about this unique place, and say kaddish for the first members of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun (our founding name) who are buried here.  Since this cemetery is quite old and many of the grave markers have worn away, it's likely that many of those buried here no longer have descendants to say kaddish for them.


We'll then make the short (10 min.) drive to gather at Barnert's Mount Nebo Cemetery in Totowa around 11 a.m.  We'll gather for a geniza ceremony - the burial of sacred books and texts.  All are welcome to bring items to place in the geniza, such as old prayer books, tefillin, etc.  (If you aren't sure if something is appropriate for the geniza, contact Rabbi Steiner.)

We'll also unveil and dedicate the new geniza marker, an almost 100 year-old lion statue restored from Nathan Barnert's mausoleum. 

After our geniza ceremony, we'll have time to walk the beautiful grounds at Mount Nebo and see the inside of some of the mausoleums, including the final resting place of Nathan and Miriam Barnert, the namesakes and founders of our congregation.  

No registration is necessary, and Barnert members of all ages are welcome. 

This event will take place rain or shine. 

All COVID protocols will be followed, including masking and completion of the COVID screening questionnaire by all in attendance.

What is a Geniza?

A geniza is a place where Jews store sacred items that are damaged or no longer used/needed, such as tallitot, tefillin, prayer books or Torah scrolls.  The word "geniza" means "reserved" or "hidden" in Hebrew.  Barnert has a geniza, beneath the ark, that was created when our Franklin Lakes location was built.  We have additional genizot at our Mount Nebo Cemetery in Totowa.

For a long time, Jewish communities set aside a room in each synagogue exclusively for this purpose, and called that space the geniza.  Today, most synagogues have a closet or a box where they collect used papers and ritual objects that are considered sacred. 

Synagogues typically clean out their genizot every few years, by burying the contents in a Jewish cemetery as a sign of reverence and respect. 

Why Put Items Into a Geniza?

Jewish tradition has taught us to care for our sacred objects, like prayer books or Torah scrolls, in a special way when they are no longer in use.  Instead of throwing them out or recycling them in bins, we bury them in a Jewish cemetery.  We do this out of respect because we think of them as having sacred qualities, not dissimilar to people.  When these sacred objects "die" or are no longer needed, we honor them and lay them to rest as we do with our loved ones.

Why Bring Kids to a Graveyard?

Have you ever thought about how you might introduce your child to a cemetery in a non-scary or threatening atmosphere?  Partcipating in a visit and event like our kaddish and geniza ceremony is one way to make this introduction.  The Mount Nebo Cemetery is a beautiful and tranquil place.  We will have time to walk around the grounds following the geniza ceremony, and Rabbi Steiner will be there to answer questions.  This is not only a wonderful way to lessen the fear some associate with cemeteries, but also a way to introduce children to the Barnert members who helped build and create the community we experience today.

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Fri, June 9 2023 20 Sivan 5783