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Jewish Memorials

Commemoration of the dead is an important ritual among the Jewish people. The lighting of the lamp, the Yartzeit, is a ceremony which is observed for eleven months by the bereaved, and thence on every anniversary of the death. So likewise, according to Hebraic tradition, a monument should be unveiled on the first anniversary of the dead in a Jewish family. This ritual of commemoration probably had its origin in the precedent established by Jacob, who erected the first monument mentioned in the Bible, Genesis 35:20 : “And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”

As in all other religions, the ritual and symbolism of the Hebrew varies in different lands. And while Hebrews never utilized symbolism to the extent of the Christian, nevertheless, their ritual and symbolism have been potent factors in the evolution of both ecclesiastical and commemorative art. The deep-rooted sentiment for commemoration among Jewish people is appealingly expressed in “Baith Hachaim”, the Hebrew word for cemetery, translated: “House of the Eternal Life”.

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