Mikro Kodesh Cemetery gets spruced up and hosts Genziah

June 2, 2022

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The heat of the day didn’t stop Jewish Tidewater’s volunteers from coming out on the morning of Sunday, May 22 to Mikro Kodesh Cemetery in Chesapeake.

That morning, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Young Adult Division, together with Chabad of Tidewater and Norfolk Kollel, gathered to clear overgrowth that had made its way onto the graves in the cemetery and bury the community’s discarded shaimos.

Shaimos refers to objects that hold holiness in them. Torah scrolls, tefillin, prayer books, and mezuzah scrolls all require burial to be disposed of, rather than being discarded or recycled. A community collection of shaimos from synagogues and households by Chabad and the Federation took place in the weeks leading up to the Genizah. That Sunday, 130 boxes of shaimos were laid to rest in the cemetery.

“The burial of the books and sacred items are in following with the mitzvah in Deuteronomy 12:4 of not doing to G-dly sacredness as is to be done to idolatry, i.e. destroy and get rid of. When these prayer books, mezuzahs, and so on are no longer fit for using, we respectfully place them in the ground,” says Rabbi Levi Brashevitsky.

“Decked with tools and supplies to clear the overgrown and unkempt weeds, trees, and foliage of this sacred space, the resting place of so many dating back to the 1800s, we of the local Jewish community who have no familial relation to, nor know those buried here, feel the strong bond of one Jew to another. We came to demonstrate that we are one and that those resting are not forgotten,” says Rabbi Brashevitsky.

“While we may not have read/learned through all the books being buried, we are reminded of the inheritance that the Torah is to each and everyone of us (Deuteronomy 33:4),” says Brashevitsky. “And just like those whom we came to respect at Mikro Kodesh, the Torah, books, etc. are not only buried in the ground, but also in our hearts and the way we live.”

After laying the boxes, the volunteers said Kaddish for all those buried in the cemetery. All of the community volunteers deserve a note of appreciation for coming out and braving the hot spring humidity to clean up Mikro Kodesh and help bury the community Genizah.

Matthew Kramer-Morning is United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Young Leadership Campaign director. He may be reached at mkmorning@ujft.org.

Mark Robbins Photography

-Matthew Kramer-Morning

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