Kever Avot – 5783
On Sunday, October 2nd, 2022, from 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM, there with be a Kever Avot observance in the Jewish section of the Evergreen Cemetery in the town of Mendocino.
This is the 3rd time the MCJC Chevrah Kadisha (Holy Society) has hosted this event. There will be a short series of readings by members of the community, with leyning by Rabbi Margaret Holub of El Maleh Rachamim. This will be followed by an opportunity to visit graves and to remember those buried here and elsewhere. The event will conclude with a simple Kiddush. (If you feel compelled to bring food to share, you can, but it is not expected. It should be finger food and individually portioned).
You may want to bring folding chairs, small stones to place on grave markers and check the weather forecast. The Mourner’s Kaddish IS planned for this event, for those who are currently in mourning. There will be an opportunity for everyone to say Kaddish during Yizkor at Yom Kippur services.
Unless you have mobility issues, it is a kindness to park outside the cemetery, to preserve parking for those who have difficulty walking.
Visiting graves during Elul and before Yom Kippur is a very old Jewish custom. Doing this as a community has been going on in the US for around 200 years. It is most popular in rural areas, and on the East Coast and in the South, but has been cropping up in many places recently. In smaller communities there may be a massive potluck and sometimes alcohol is involved. In many cemeteries, there are several generations, and it is an opportunity for elders to talk to kids about the ancestors they never met.
In LA, it can be a big production, with the local mortuaries hiring luxury buses to bring seniors from retirement centers to the cemeteries, volunteers bringing elders from their congregations to the event, a buffet is provided and celebrity Rabbis and Cantors are recruited to put on a really big show.
It is somewhat different for us in this place and time. Most of our families are buried elsewhere and members of the MCJC have been buried in several cemeteries along the coast. The pandemic appears to be locally waning for the moment, but is not over.
We can reminisce about and honor the dead who are buried here, in the other coast cemeteries, in other cemeteries across the country and the world, and those who are not buried at all. Whether you make it to this event or not (and we do hope to see you there), the Days of Awe are a time for honoring the memory of the dead and giving thanks for our lives and those that we love. The Rabbis tell us it is time for Teshuvah, turning toward God.
Memento mori (remember death). It is easy to lose track of the passage of time, and come to feel that we have an infinite number of days ahead of us. In reality, there are a finite number of sunsets, kisses, cups of coffee and cat hugs remaining to us. God only knows how many. Judaism, and the High Holy Days in particular, encourages us to remember that our lives are finite. This shouldn't be morbid or depressing, on the contrary, it is meant to be life affirming, to help us value our days, to love life and remind us to treasure those we love.
There are some links below for ways you can remember those who have left this spiritual plane while at home, and links to previous Kever Avot observances (soon) and other resources (also soon).
It is generally thought that outdoor events are low risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but they are not no risk.
Vaccinations provide good protection against serious disease, but not against infection from the latest variants. It is unclear yet, whether the latest bi-valent "booster" vacimations will provide protection against infection.
The risk of serious disease, even with vaccination, increases with age and co-morbidities.
The current antivirals, particularly paxlovid, provide good protection against COVID-19 progressing to the inflammatory phase, but not everyone can take paxlovid.
For most people, the greatest risk of COVID-19 is not serious disease, but Long COVID (PASC). The underlying mechanism is not understood, there is no standard treatment and recent research is showing it is more widespread and serious than initially thought.
Masks are optional at this event, but masking not only protects you, it can protect others. Not everyone can be vaccinated.
The CDC's current (09/28/2022) level for community spread in Mendocino County is "low". The 2 week average is 10 daily cases reported/100k for Mendocino County, with a positivity rate of 5.1%. A good source of statistics if the NYTs: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/mendocino-california-covid-cases.html
This is the cemetery entrance
3:30 PM - Readings
3:49 PM - El Malei Rachamim and Kaddish
4:00 PM - Grave Visits and Schmoozing
4:30 PM - Simple Kiddush
(We will try and start and finish on time, so you might want to come a little early. People are invited to hang around as long as they wish after Kiddush to visit with friends both those subsurface and those still above ground.)
If you have any questions, please contact Bob Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Robert G Evans 09/29/2022