THE LEADERSHIP of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ’s Beth El Memorial Park Foundation is working closely with officials in Newark to repair damage at the Union Field Cemetery, a section of the historic Jewish cemeteries along South Orange Avenue in Newark.
According to foundation chair Rabbi Steven Kushner, construction at the nearby site of the old Pabst Brewery factory, which was razed for retail development, damaged the cemetery’s retaining wall, which in turn caused damage to some gravesites and headstones along its perimeter. Although the damage is substantial, no graves were compromised.
The city expects to receive an engineer’s report from the developer with recommendations on making repairs. If the recommendations are satisfactory and the repairs are promptly completed, no further legal action is expected to be taken.
“We are hopeful that the principals involved in the damage will do the right thing,” said Kushner. “We regard the preservation of our cemeteries as a sacred obligation and are doing everything in our power to rectify the situation as soon as possible.”
The Beth El Memorial Park Foundation, a joint project of the Community Relations Committee and the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest NJ, rehabilitates and maintains Newark’s historic Jewish cemeteries, especially areas no longer owned by synagogues or burial groups. The foundation works closely with Franken Epstein Management, Inc., which maintains the cemeteries.