CWRU Links
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CHESED SHEL EMETH CEMETERY ASSN.

CHESED SHEL EMETH CEMETERY ASSN.

The CHESED SHEL EMETH CEMETERY ASSN. was established in 1903 to provide traditional Jewish burials for indigent Jews. During the height of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe, many Cleveland Jews died without friends or family who could provide for a proper, ritually correct burial. An initial drive for donations culminated in the purchase of a tract of land on Ridge Rd. on Cleveland's west side as the site of the association's cemetery. A portion of the Ridge Rd. Cemetery is still (1995) maintained by Chesed Shel Emeth. The first burial occurred in the fall of 1904. During its first year or two of existence, the association raised funds by passing the hat and soliciting from door to door. However, a membership and dues structure was established, and by 1909 the association included approx. 500 members. At the height of the era of immigration preceding World War I, Chesed Shel Emeth was conducting 100 burials per year. As Cleveland's Jewish community became well established and more affluent, the number of burials provided by the association declined. However, in the 1970s and throughout the 1980s, with an aging Jewish population and the increased immigration of Russian Jews from the Soviet Union, demand on the association grew. In the early 1980s Chesed Shel Emeth was conducting 10 fully subsidized burials per year, including cemetery plot, funeral service, and perpetual care. In addition, the association provided monetary assistance for burials to families with limited financial means.

In 1994 the CSE Board of Trustees entered into an agreement with the Commission on Cemetery Preservation, a joint project of the JEWISH COMMUNITY FED. and the Congregation Plenum. The commission responded to CSE's increasing financial pressures by agreeing to take on responsibility for ongoing maintenance and capital repairs at the cemetery. This partnership allows Chesed Shel Emeth's representatives to continue to interact with families of deceased persons to arrange for burials, stone settings, etc. As of 1995, approx. 20 burials have taken place each year at Chesed Shel Emeth.