Monday, December 04, 2006

Exploratory

I'm a curious girl with a fascination for other cultures and finding out what makes people tick...even geeky enough to love research. That said, my curiousity was piqued a few weeks ago when a friend told me I could never be buried in a Jewish cemetery because of my tattoos. So, following up on last week's visit to a cemetery in Fairfax, I decided to visit two old Jewish cemeteries in Alexandria.

The Agudas Achim Cemetery was down a dirt path that was lined with trees, their canopy forming an arch. I was very aware* of the nature surrounding me as I made my way into the cemetery. A squirrel stalked my progression by running alongside me through the trees, and I would swear a beaver ran by once I entered the cemetery. Immediately, I was struck by the simplicity and uniformity of the headstones as compared to more ostentacious ones in different cemeteries. The stones piled on the markers took me back to my time in Germany, and while a quick google search turned up several different explanations for the symbolism of placing stones, I believe it a truly beautiful practice whatever the reasoning.

About 100 yards down the road is the Home of Peace Cemetery, thought to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Alexandria. Home of Peace gave me new thoughts to mull over and questions to research. There was an overwhelming sense of family and connectedness present in this cemetery. Family plots were typically demarcated with a low brick perimeter and a large family headstone or obelisk. Smaller markers were within the plot for each family member. I know being buried next to your loved ones is fairly common, but the manor in which it was done at Home of Peace seemed especially binding**. While google didn't shed a lot of light into this particular style of burial, I did learn quite a bit about bereavement in Judaism in the process.

*I also start thinking a lot about zombies when in a cemetery. Weird...yes.
**I can't think of the word I really mean to use here. The use of binding in this context is meant to infer being bound together by a common thread.

3 comments:

  1. i love doing research too, but its the whole writing it up part that sucks.

    sounds like a relaxing and enlightening day. i do love cemetaries, there is such a feeling of calm in them, especially the ones that can balance the memory of the people with the beauty of nature

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  2. That will be my new reason for not getting a tattoo, "I need to think ahead, okay?"

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  3. ZOMBIESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

    You took some really good cemetary shots. I still need to accomplish my cemetary goal.

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