7/15/2007

Dead and Still Forgotten...

While the Diocese and critics debate the "ethnic cleansing" language in a recent Common Council resolution - which was passed unaminously, btw - another religous organization appeared in the Buffalo News this week...
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo plans to build a smaller facility in the Northtowns more in line with the needs of today’s aging, shrinking Jewish community.

Competing synagogues that once recruited members from one another are talking about ways to combine programs and operations and collectively reach out to unaffiliated Jews.

At the end of June, the American Jewish Committee stopped providing professional staff for its Western New York chapter, citing the need to redeploy those resources to cities with much larger Jewish populations.

The local Jewish community is adjusting to dramatically reduced numbers read the rest...
So, this afternoon I went deep into the City's East side and visited Beth Jacob Cemetery on Landsdale Street, again. Here's the map.
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fixBuffalo readers may recall that I first visited Beth Jacob two years ago - right here. Last fall I compared Beth Jacob to Rich View Memorial Cemetery lost somewhere in Toronto, here.
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click image to enlarge
I'd counted the grave stones in July, 2005 - Counting Stones - and 74 of the 276 graves appeared to be in decent shape. This afternoon, it appeared as though the same number of graves remain desecrated. Some of the crime tape that had been fluttering in the wind was still there, yet the same unsettled feeling passed through me again that I'd experienced the first time I visited Beth Jacob.
So, the Catholic Church turns its head on the built envrionment and declares, ad nauseum, "the church is about people and not buildings." Jesus of Suburbia. Nice.

Imagine if Beth Jacob were closer to Hertel or Elmwood. Landsdale is a dead end street, right off Koons. Remember Shock and Awe on Koons Avenue? And yes, today it's way worse.

While it may be difficult to forget Grandma's house, as it's now commonplace to ship her house off to a landfill, what about Grandma? Will someone please explain to me why it's now so easy to forget?

Shame on the local Jewish community for not remembering and honoring those who made the path to the suburbs possible.

Transit road has no memory.
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10 comments:

aaron11272 said...

I may be totally off base here, but I think one of the main reasons why this and many other important landmarks throughout the city are neglected like this is because:
People who care live outside the city and are afraid of the neighborhoods these landmarks reside in, and the people who live in these neighborhoods just don't care enough to do anything about it. There are a lot of places throughout Buffalo that I would like to visit in person (outside of my car), but I don't because I would be scared to death of walking into one of these areas. Imagine if I walked into this cemetary and a drug deal was going on. Do you realize the trouble I would have walked into? Yes - it sucks that all the places you speak of are neglected, but the remaining inhabitants (and not just you) need to take some responsibility and clean up their areas.

EMJ said...

I am a little confused as to what the Church or ethnic cleansing has to do with this situation. It sort of came in from left field. is this a diocesan cemetary?

I think it's a real shame that people are buying cars, taking trips,buying homes, etc. and such conditions exist. We should all sell our luxuries and take care of such devastation that exists.

If there was a way that maybe we could look up the names and addresses of all the people who lived on the East Side and get them to come back and take care of their former homes. Just because they no longer own them doesn't mean they are no longer responsible for them. They are no different then the Diocese who simply sells property and then feels they no longer have responsibility for them.

We are all in this together and we have to make this known to all.

fix buffalo said...

emj...

the reference to "ethnic cleansing" is from the language used by Buffalo's Common Council in a recent resolution criticizing how the Diocese is (mis)handling the decline of landmark sites.

First the Diocese and now the Jewish Federation is experiencing the results of population loss.

The wholesale lack of stewardship of Beth Jacob Cemetery - it's always been a Jewish cemetery, thought that was rather clear in my posting - is another sign of religious groups inability to handle the effects of a shrinking city. In this case, they seem to lack the resources necessary to care for Grandma...

Anonymous said...

can you tell me the address or cross-streets to this cemetery? im not familiar with the area, but would like to see what i can do to fix it up.

fix buffalo said...

Anon 1:21...

Follow the map link. Easy to find...

Let me know what you're planning. Considering the same.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the Jewish Federation in Buffalo is having a tough time grappling with its own financial situation, given the population loss of the community (its about 15,000 now). The funds are shrinking as the population declines. This has happened in a lot of the Rust Belt Jewish communities. It is still inexcusable, however, that the community would allow the cemetery to fall in this type of disrepair. There are probably descendents living locally that have their own history in there. As a Jew myself, it is sacred and important to honor the dead. The Buffalo Jewish community should be ashamed for giving this cemetery lip service for so long...yet has done nothing about fixing the stones. I am SURE someone within that community has the means to fix up the cemetery and install a locked fence (see Havos Shalom in Niagara Falls..). There are old Jewish cemeteries in the worst parts of Hartford and Newark, yet the community still finds the funds to keep them in decent shape.

Anonymous said...

just to let you know- a boy in boy scout troop 156 at the jewish community center is planning his eagle scout project to clean/repair the cemetery--hopefully to start this fall

Anonymous said...

if interested in the boy scout project please call Mark Finkelstein scoutmaster at 689-2120

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the eagle scout project Wondering how these young kids going to lift those granite stones to put them back on their settings? Or at least lay the stones flat on the ground (so you can at least see the deceased names)? That is the biggest part of fixing this cemetery up.

The Buffalo Jewish community needs to set up a financial campaign to fix up the cemetery. Back River Cemetery in Montreal fell into severe disrepair..yet the Montreal community sprung into action. Certainly, there are many Jewish residents of Buffalo who have some relative that is interred in Beth Jacob.

Anonymous said...

the scouts project is a leadership project-adults and boys will be working on the project. we are in the process of gathering quotes for the fence repair and to reset the stones--this will be done professionally. we have obtained some funding to attempt to complete this long overdue project.. mark finkelstein 6892120