On Thursday, May 22, middle school students from Community Day School will travel to Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in Allison Park, Pa., to participate in a multifaceted program honoring veterans. Program elements will include an honor guard demonstration, a memorial service with Hebrew and English readings, a bugle sounding, flag replacements and a discussion with a World War II veteran.
“It’s a wonderful learning experience,” said Renee Abrams, chair of the Adath Jeshurun Cemetery.
Abrams first conceived of the partnership between Adath Jeshurun Cemetery and Community Day School almost seven years ago when her children attended CDS. She noticed how aging Jewish war veterans were no longer able to maintain their fellow servicemen’s graves, and devised a plan for the future.
“The program is evolving,” she explained.
Each year, the community service program has added a new element. Last year, a series of impactful readings was introduced. This year, an honor guard will perform and hold a discussion with students.
Conceptually, the program possesses three aims: imparting respect for the American flag; increasing respect for veterans and their graves; and changing attitudes about cemeteries.
Abrams explained that students at the cemetery will replace tattered American flags and review the rules of conduct involving the flag. Additionally, through discussions with the World War II veteran, students will increase familiarity with veterans and learn how to respectfully treat a grave. Finally, through dignified and respectful grounds improvements, Abrams hopes that the students will associate their time in a cemetery positively.
In 2002, Adath Jeshurun Congregation closed. With its conclusion, came an uncertain future for a cemetery whose synagogue once boasted the largest Orthodox presence in the East End.
With neither a congregation nor regular dues paying members, support for the cemetery waned.
Through efforts such as the partnership program with CDS middle school students, Abrams hopes to promote the still functioning cemetery.
“It’s really important for people to know we’re still here. We plan on honoring and preserving [the cemetery],” she said.
Other enterprises have included creating a website, adathjeshuruncemeterypgh.org, where visitors can learn more about the cemetery and engender its sustainability.
Community members are invited to join the CDS students for the Salute Our Veterans program on May 22 at 3 p.m. at Adath Jeshurun Cemetery, 4779 Roland Road, Hampton Township. RSVP is requested by calling Renee Abrams at 412-363-3112 or Sue Cohen at 412-508-0817.
(Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)