Founded in 1897, the Beth Israel Cemetery was formed to meet the needs of the Kingston and area Jewish Community. Due to the recent change in ritual, a section of the Cemetery has been designated to meet the needs of the Conservative Jewish community. The original Cemetery space will continue to meet the Halachic needs of the Orthodox Jewish community.
The Cemetery Committee meets a minimum of twice yearly. This Committee is dedicated to maintaining a dignified and respectful environment at the Cemetery and to providing services in a thoughtful manner to members of the Beth Israel Congregation. The Board and the Rabbi are an integral part of this process.
The committee may be contacted through the Beth Israel Congregation.
A Chevra Kadisha (חברה קדישא) “holy society”, acting as a "burial society", is a loosely structured but generally closed organization of Jewish men and women who see to it that the bodies of Jews are prepared for burial according to Halacha and are protected from desecration until burial. Two of the main requirements are the showing of proper respect for a corpse, and the ritual cleansing of the body and subsequent dressing for burial.
The members of the Beth Israel Community have been quietly served by this remarkable group of individuals since the early 1900’s.
If you would be interested in supporting Chevra Kadisha with your time, please contact their Chair through the Beth Israel Congregation.
The Cemetery can be reached from the East or West by using Highway 401, exit 613, taking Sydenham Road South.
The most often asked questions are:
Why are our headstones footstones?
There are many who believe that the headstones of the Beth Israel Cemetery were placed incorrectly over 100 years ago. It appears they are wrong!
The Cemetery Committee has recently checked several sources, including Rabbi Daniel Marans of the Zomet Institute in Israel.
Rabbi Dan advises that there is no Halachic position on headstones. This is a regional issue. There are cemeteries throughout Europe that have headstones that are actually footstones. He notes that all Jewish cemeteries in the Ukraine are this way. There are even cemeteries in Israel that are set up in this this fashion.
Rabbi Dan believes that Kingston’s early settlers came from a region in Europe where their headstone tradition of the headstone actually being a footstone became our minhag, our local tradition.
Why do some place a pebble on a headstone?
This tradition may reflect the biblical practice of marking the grave with a pile of stones, or it may be the end result of the custom of writing notes to the deceased and pushing them into crevices in the headstone (just as notes are pushed into the Western Wall in Jerusalem). When no crevice could be found, the note was weighted down with a stone. In time, the paper disintegrated or blew away leaving only the stone. Thus, some began to think that the leaving of a stone was the custom... and so it became the custom.
Is there a Jewish Funeral Home in Kingston?
The Jewish Community here is a small one and cannot support a Jewish Funeral Home. The Congregation uses the services of Gordon F. Tompkins. The Cemetery Committee will make these arrangements for the family.
Are there fees charged by Tompkins for their services?
There are fees charges by Tompkins which can be discussed directly with them. In addition there is a charge for preparing the gravesite.
Does the Congregation charge an additional fee for religious services provided at burial?
In most communities, a fee is charged to the bereaved family for services rendered by the Rabbi during this difficult family period. This is not the tradition in Kingston for members of the Congregation.
Therefore, you may wish to consider an honorarium for the Rabbi.
There is a service fee levied to non-members.
Is there a specific casket I must use?
A casket that meets the Halachic requirement for an Orthodox burial must be used. Tompkins has the preferred casket in inventory at all times.
Who determines the size of the headstone and what is written on it?
The allowable maximum size for a headstone is part of the By-Laws of the Cemetery Committee which are available to you at any time. All inscriptions have to be approved by the Rabbi. Headstones must be purchased from Kingston Monuments.
How often can I visit the Cemetery?
You may visit as often as you wish subject to Conservative tradition. Many of our members prefer to visit at Kever Avot in the fall (the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at 11am). Please contact the Synagogue for this year’s date. At Kever Avot, the parking lot next to the Cemetery is available. At other times, please park at Ontario Hydro located across the street from the Cemetery, next to Kingston Monuments.
Can I place flowers on the gravesite?
Under certain conditions, the committee will allow for modest fresh flowers to be placed graveside. All flowers must be placed in an approved flower box and all materials must be removed by October 31. Please consult with the Committee before making any arrangements.
May I purchase Interment Rights in advance?
Yes. If you wish to purchase Interment Rights in advance, please contact the Cemetery Committee Chair through the Beth Israel Congregation.