Hebrew Friendship Cemetery is one of Baltimore’s oldest Jewish cemeteries; Sol Levinson & Bros. is Maryland’s oldest Jewish funeral home. So it’s only fitting that, starting in September, Sol Levinson & Bros. will begin the first in a series of all-volunteer cleanups of the cemetery, home to nearly 2,000 plots, with graves interred nearly two centuries ago. The funeral home has joined up with the Jewish Volunteer Connection and the Jewish Cemetery Association to initiate this effort.
“Many of these cemeteries are over 100 years old and require ongoing maintenance that becomes more and more difficult to accomplish as the years go on and they become more and more distant from the synagogues that once governed them,” said Greg King, Sol Levinson & Bros.’ director of grief support and community outreach. “Having this understanding, we felt that a great way for us to give back our time to the community, learn a bit about Baltimore’s Jewish history, and to honor the generations of Jews that came before us, would be to organize a cleanup of one of our older, most historic, cemeteries.”
Matt Levinson, VP of Sol Levinson & Bros., said this cleanup is just one facet of the funeral home’s 125th-anniversary volunteer initiative. More cemetery cleanups are being planned, and at this year’s Pikesville Fall Festival, they will have a booth to sign up volunteers for constructing meal kits and “Blessing Bags,” as they’ve done in the past.
“We feel the most important thing about these projects is encouraging families to do mitzvahs together,” King said. “When kids see their parents putting together a Blessing Bag in order to make someone’s life just a little easier, even in such a small way, their children learn from that model and hopefully carry that generosity and gratitude throughout their lives.”
The first cleanup will be on Sept. 16.