Jewish law requires that a tombstone be prepared so that the deceased will not be forgotten. The grave must not be desecrated.
We are restoring the Mt. Zion Cemetery and ensuring it is maintained for generations to come!
Friends of Mt Zion Cemetery is a group of volunteers dedicated to preserving and restoring the memories of those souls whose bodies have come to rest at the Mt. Zion Cemetery located just east of Los Angeles. Although it was once an affluent Jewish neighborhood, over the years the demographics have changed. There are now very few, if any, Jewish residents in the area. In turn, Mt Zion Cemetery has deteriorated to a near-abandoned state, plagued by both vandalism and decay.
To honor those Jews whose families have made this sanctuary their resting place, our mission is to restore all the damaged headstones and graves by the centennial anniversary of Mt Zion Cemetery in 2016. While our ultimate goal is to bring Mt Zion back to its original condition, our restoration plan is to be implemented in stages, with the final stage bringing our planning and work into fruition.
Total Needed $750,000
Total Raised $310,000
We will be keeping our supporters informed on the restoration progress on this website.
The Chevra Chesed Shel Emeth (Chesed Shel Emeth) or Jewish Free Burial Society was founded in 1916 for the purpose of providing "proper burial for orthodox Jews and for buying a burial ground. Mt Zion provided that burial ground. The Mount Zion Cemetery adjoins the Home of Peace Memorial Park (they were once connected). Although, historically, Mt Zion was known for providing free Jewish burials, upon further examination, it is evident that Jews with varying financial backgrounds were buried there as well. Amongst the several smaller headstones stand, large ornate headstones as well; evidence of significant care and financial investment. It seems that along with the Free Jewish Burial Society, many other funerals and burials were conducted as well from all tiers of the Jewish community.
Mt Zion Cemetery is currently overwhelmed with damage and decay. Nearly 1000 graves are in some sort of disrepair. The dismal conditions include toppled and cracked headstones, smashed concrete, graffiti and other vandalism, uprooted trees, and uneven pathways to name a few. It appears as though vandals used rocks and screwdrivers on multiple occasions to pry off the rounded photographs from the headstones, leaving behind only a name and dates. It truly is a sad sight to behold.
The scope of work and final design of the project will depend on the outcome of our fundraising. The restoration process will take from 24 - 36 months to complete and will be addressed in a phased approach. We have started the project by securing the perimeter of the cemetery, including much needed front gate repairs. We have broken up the cemetery into 4 sections and the project into 5 phases. We estimate the overall budget to be approximately $750,000 (not including phase 5, which is to be determined).
330 Graves needing attention
(July 2013 to December 2013)
Fallen Tombstones 132
Broken Tombstones 2(Small) 1(medium) 2(large)
Damaged Graves 72 (minor damage) 63 (substantial damage)
Graves without Tombstones 38
330 Graves needing attention
(January 2014 to July 2014)
Fallen Tombstone 6
Broken Tombstone 1(small) 1(medium) 1(Large)
Damaged Graves 10
Graves without Tombstones 1
438 Graves needing attention
(August 2014 to March 2015)
Fallen Tombstone 162
Broken Tombstone 2(small) 3(medium) 2(large)
Damaged Graves 127(minor damage) 104(substantial damage)
Graves without Tombstone 38
354 Graves needing attention
(April 2015 to November 2015)
Fallen Tombstone 49
Broken Tombstone 2(small) 5(medium) 3(large) 5(extra-large)
Damaged Graves 252
Graves without Tombstone 38
Total Number of Grave That Need Attention: Approx. 1000
Estimated Annual Maintenance Cost: $30,000 per year
Phase Five: Common Area and Pathway upgrade and beautification Cost: Estimate TBD based on scope. (TBD July to Dec 2015)
Mt. Zion is in desperate need of repair and restoration. Any further delay will only allow for more damage and decay, possibly beyond the point of salvage.
Thousands of forgotten souls rest on the grounds of Mt. Zion. These souls once lived and breathed; they walked the same land we now walk on. Although many years have passed since they breathed their last, their time on earth cannot be forgotten. By putting forth effort to restore their final resting place, we are honoring the memories of all of our antecedents, all the Jews that came before us. Without them, we would not be where we are today.
For the first time in years, there is a light shining on Mt Zion; we must work together keep this light forever shining brightly, as its original founders intended.
We come from a rich heritage: the history, values and destiny that we have always shared are driven and inspired by the wisdom of our Torah and our people.
In the Jewish tradition a cemetery is called Beit HaChayim House of Life for it reminds us of our lifes inner purpose and definition. Although an individuals time in this world has ended, ones soul and essence did not die.
Life on earth is one stage of a journey. When the body is laid to rest, part of the souls essence remains with it and is present above the grave. This is why in Jewish thought a cemetery is a holy place. That it deserves the utmost respect and dignity is a foundational understanding in the Jewish tradition.
When we respect our forebears and our past we recognize the everlasting contribution they made to this world in their lifetime. We salute the transcendent acts they performed as vehicles of their souls. Our campaign to restore this Jewish cemetery is not only of historic significance; it is the foundation of Jewish continuity. It is our commitment to cherish our past, as we look to that past to find orientation in life for ourselves, our children, and for a bright Jewish future.
All headstones will be lifted and reinforced with rebar, as needed.
Depending on the condition of the ledgers, those in need will be completely restored with new concrete.
We will be safely removing graffiti with organic, non-chemical graffiti removal solution.
All fences surrounding the perimeter of the cemetery have been fixed and replaced as needed. This work was done prior to doing any work.
The road will be grinded down and repaved, including sidewalk repairs, where needed.
All additional money donated as well as continuous donations after completion will be rolled over to an endowment plan, costing approximately $30,000/year to keep the cemetery properly maintained.
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