Because of Strike Jewish Emergency Committee Has Dug 120 Graves

Jewish bodies are being buried despite the grave-diggers strike, but with difficulty, Rabbi Samuel Shrage, executive director of the Mayor’s Neighborhood Action Program, said today speaking for the Emergency Committee for Jewish Burial. The Committee, with some 90 volunteers, has dug 120 graves for Jewish bodies since the strike of the Cemetery Workers and Green Attendants Union, Local 365 was widened on June 10. Though the Union has permitted members of the families of the deceased, volunteers, and friends to dig graves “very few” Jewish families have dug graves for their deceased on their own, Rabbi Schrage told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Mount Arrarat Cemetery on Long Island “has run out of refrigeration space and is piling caskets on top of each other–an indignity to the dead,” Rabbi Shrage said. The Committee, which is short on transportation and funds, received another report today that graves in a cemetery where they had been dug improperly by the bereaved families “were caving in.” The Baron Hirsch Cemetery had barred all “amateur” grave-diggers. This morning it agreed to permit them to enter when the Committee signed an agreement waiving the cemetery’s responsibility for injuries to the grave-diggers.

The Committee “is handling just about every call” for assistance and has been permitted to bury in all Jewish cemeteries in New York City, Rabbi Schrage said.

The Ichud Habonim, a Jewish youth organization, announced last night at a press conference that it would undertake the burial of Jewish bodies, but as of this afternoon this group didn’t have “sufficient manpower” to handle “the 3 or 4″ cases referred to it by the Committee, Rabbi Schrage said.

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