First ‘green’ Jewish cemetery opens

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) – The first “green” Jewish cemetery in the United States was dedicated.

Gan Yarok, Hebrew for “green garden,” is a Jewish section of the Forever Fernwood Natural Burial Ground in Mill Valley, Calif., just north of San Francisco. It was dedicated last Friday.

Rabbi Stuart Kelman, chair of the cemetery’s rabbinic advisory council, says no concrete liners or embalming fluid will be used. Bodies may be buried either in plain wooden boxes, wicker baskets or just in shrouds.

No pesticides or other chemicals are used on the grounds, and graves are marked by simple carved boulders instead of concrete or bronze markers.

Gan Yarok includes Orthodox, Conservative and community areas, each with its own regulations. Five local congregations, from Orthodox to Renewal, have joined the Gan Yarok Association, which gives its members heavily discounted prices on burial plots.

 

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