Beth Israel is a packed cemetery. Full of concrete and stones.
There is no grass, no open green land, this is a cemetery of a city. Where rows of concrete rectangles sit line after line after line. Like neat row houses standing next to each other up a crowded street.
There were two things that I had not noticed in cemeteries before. One was the small stones on the grave.
I asked a couple friends why stones were placed on the graves, and they said that it was a marker to show that they had been there, a statement that they still remembered the dead. But they didn’t know why it had started, so I went looking, and found a couple different reasons, I don’t know which one is true, or if all of them are.
The first reason is that a long time ago grave markers were piles of stones, when visiting the grave it was customary to leave a stone on the marker, to build it higher, and to remember the person gone.
The second reason is that an alter, in the Bible, to worship God, was originally a pile of stones, so there is a tradition of a pile of stones being holy, and a good thing to have around.
The last reason is to hold the soul down, to keep it from getting up and wandering around, to keep it from haunting the living.
The second thing I found different about the cemetery is the way the head stones face. Or should I say, the way the writing on the headstones face. In the cemeteries I usually see, the writing of the headstone stands above and looks down on the body. For example, when walking about a cemetery, to read the engraving, you need to stand at the persons feet.
In this cemetery the writing faces the other way. It faces away from the body.