As part of our commitment to our community, Temple Bnai Israel maintains a cemetery in which members may purchase perpetual care burial plots.  If you have any questions about burial, or about the cemetery itself, please contact us at office@templebnaiisrael.org.  A member of our Cemetery Committee will get back to you as quickly as possible.

The cemetery is located at the junction of CT Route 31 and CT Route 32 in Mansfield, Connecticut.  For GPS or mapping websites, please use this search address:  227 Stafford Road, Mansfield, CT 06250.

Jewish graves

Burial of Non-Jews in the Temple Bnai Israel Cemetery

TEMPLE BNAI ISRAEL
Burial of Non-Jews in the Cemetery

Below are the results of much study, discussion and debate over the laws, rituals, and customs regarding Jewish Cemeteries, and the burial of Non-Jews in a Jewish cemetery.  This represents the current policy regarding the Temple Bnai Israel Cemetery.

In Eretz Yisrael, when our laws were conceived, burial was on private property, customarily in caves. Later, when that was no longer feasible, the Jewish cemetery appeared. Jewish law does not compel a community to have a cemetery, but when it does have one, it is considered a “sacred possession and trust.” In fact, Jewish law has very little to say about the establishment of a cemetery. A Jewish cemetery become sanctified space more by custom than by law. It is sanctified by the Jewish burial customs observed within its boundaries, the Jewish prayers said there, the Jewish symbols that mark its graves, and because it is used for no other purpose.

We have no law prohibiting the burial of non-Jews in our cemeteries. One commentary tells us that the burial of non-Jews in Jewish cemeteries was done regularly in the time of the Mishnah. Another says: “We sustain the poor of non-Jews, comfort their mourners, and bury their dead with the dead of Israel.” Opposing these, we found this: “We do not bury the wicked next to the righteous.” Intended originally to protect righteous Jews from burial next to a wicked Jew, ‘wicked’ has been equated with ‘non-Jew’ and used to exclude them from our cemeteries. We reject this completely.

While we find no law regarding the establishment of a cemetery, our tradition is careful to protect the individual grave. Each grave is discrete. That is, people are buried in their own spaces, betokh shelo, meaning that the occupant of each grave is in a sanctified space regardless of the occupants of continuous graves.

Presiding over the burial of non-Jews is considered gemilut hasadim, a loving deed. While he has never been asked to do so, our Rabbi, Rav Jeremy, would not hesitate to do such a loving deed. In providing for the burial of the non-Jewish members of our Temple family in the cemetery of Temple Bnai Israel, our congregation would be performing such a loving deed. As we wish to comfort and support the families of our non-Jewish members, so do we wish to afford to those already resting in our cemetery both dignity and respect. We need to respect and honor their possible expectation of being buried among Jews only. Because we cannot inquire of them, it is necessary, in our view, to guarantee that these graves will continue to be beside Jewish ones.

Accepting, then, that non-Jewish members of the Temple Bnai Israel family will be buried in our cemetery, we need to preserve it as a functional Jewish sacred space where we can relate to our dead and to God. While there is no Halacha to guide us, there are strong customs to refer to. We also have the freedom to establish our own customs to reflect the needs of this congregation.

The foregoing considerations lead us to the following recommendations:

  1. In order to protect the sensibilities of our deceased congregants and their families who may have expected to be buried among Jews only, we acknowledge the need to preserve an ‘old area’ in which only Jews will be buried. However, we recommend that in the rest of the cemetery, Jews and non-Jews may be buried. There shall be no demarcation between the two areas.
  2. Within our cemetery, all customs, ceremonies, rituals, prayers, blessings, and graphics on gravestones shall be Jewish or non-sectarian.
  3. Non-Jewish clergy shall not officiate in our cemetery.

Directions

From Hartford

  • Take I-84 East toward Boston
  • Take exit # 59 to merge onto I-384 East toward Providence.
  • At the end of I-384, where it splits into US-44 East and US-6 East, follow signs to turn onto US-6 East.
  • From US 6 East, take the CT-32 exit toward Stafford Springs/Willimantic.
  • At the end of the exit ramp, turn left onto CT-32. Follow CT-32 approximately 1.4 miles.
  • The cemetery is on the left side of CT-32, immediately after the office of Dr. Steven J. Tishler, Optometrist, also on the left, and immediately before the junction of CT-32 and CT-31.
  • There is no sign for the cemetery. The Mansfield Drive-In Theatre & Marketplace is on the right side of CT-32 directly across from the cemetery.
  • From CT-32, bear left into the small parking area adjacent to the cemetery or park across CT-32at the Mansfield Drive-In.

From Boston

  • Take I-90 West.
  • Take exit # 9 toward US-20/Sturbridge/Hartford onto I-84 West, crossing into Connecticut
  • Take exit # 70 (CT-32) towards Willington/Willimantic.
  • Bear left onto CT-32/River Road. Follow CT-32 approximately 12-13 miles.
  • The cemetery is on the right side of CT-32, immediately after the junction of CT-32 and CT-31 and immediately before a sign for the office of Dr. Steven J. Tishler, Optometrist, also on the right.
  • There is no sign for the cemetery. The Mansfield Drive-In Theatre & Marketplace is on the left side of CT-32 directly across from the cemetery.
  • From CT-32, make a hard right turn into the small parking area adjacent to the cemetery or park across CT-32 at the Mansfield Drive-In.

From New York City

  • Take I-95 North to New Haven.
  • Take exit # 48 (left exit) onto I-91 North toward Hartford.
  • Take exit # 29 onto US-5 North/CT-15 North toward East Hartford/Boston/I-84 East.
  • CT-15 North becomes I-84 East.
  • Take exit # 59 to merge onto I-384 East toward Providence.
  • At the end of I-384, where it splits into US-44 East and US-6 East, follow signs to turn onto US-6 East.
  • From US 6 East, take the CT-32 exit toward Stafford Springs/Willimantic.
  • At the end of the exit ramp, turn left onto CT-32. Follow CT-32 approximately 1.4 miles.
  • The cemetery is on the left side of CT-32, immediately after the office of Dr. Steven J. Tishler, Optometrist, also on the left, and immediately before the junction of CT-32 and CT-31.
  • There is no sign for the cemetery. The Mansfield Drive-In Theatre & Marketplace is on the right side of CT-32 directly across from the cemetery.
  • From CT-32, bear left into the small parking area adjacent to the cemetery or park across CT-32 at the Mansfield Drive-In.

From Providence

  • Take US-Rt 6 West, following signs to bear right to the divided highway section (just past the Windham Airport)
  • Take the 2nd exit which is marked CT-32 and turn right off the exit ramp onto Rt 32.
  • Proceed about 1.4 miles north
  • The cemetery is on the left side of CT-32, immediately after the office of Dr. Steven J. Tishler, Optometrist, also on the left, and immediately before the junction of CT-32 and CT-31.
  • There is no sign for the cemetery. The Mansfield Drive-In Theatre & Marketplace is on the right side ofCT-32 directly across from the cemetery.
  • From CT-32, bear left into the small parking area adjacent to the cemetery or park across CT-32 at the Mansfield Drive-In.