|The densely forested Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery|
|Wood cuttings awaiting removal|
|Volunteers clearing weeds from graves on MLK Day, 2017|
About twenty of our MLK Day group were here thanks to “Repair the World,” a volunteer organization that “works to inspire American Jews and their communities to give their time and effort to serve those in need. We aim to make service a defining part of American Jewish life” - http://werepair.org/
|Central area of the property|
Har Hasetim is in the woods, surrounded by multi-million dollar private homes, in the Philadelphia suburb of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. The obvious question on many peoples’ minds is, “How do I get to it?” Well, you don’t. At least not without an escort, for the time being.
|Entrance to the cemetery|
|Organized tour of Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery in 2015|
Currently, if you want to see the property, you need to attend one of Beth David’s tours, which are typically associated with a cleanup event. Typically, people meet at the synagogue (1130 Vaughan Lane, Gladwyne, PA 19035), then walk down the horse trail through the woods to Conshohocken State Road. A few hundred feet down the road, you file up into the driveway of a private home (a right of way to the cemetery that has existed since the surrounding properties were subdivided many years ago - the neighbor has been gracious in recognition of that right of way and is a supporter of the Friends' efforts), through the back yard, past the wood pile, and into the cemetery. A pair of crumbling stone posts flank the entrance to Har Hasetim. There is no automobile access to the property at this point in time.
|Invasive wineberry plants in lower portion of cemetery, winter, 2013|
The request on this 2017 MLK Day by the Friends group was to focus on pulling the prickly red wineberry plants from the grave sites. Heavy gloves were distributed. Truth be told, at this point the cemetery looks rather good, the result of many prior cleanup efforts. I made the photo above in the winter of 2013, showing the immense wineberry tangle obscuring the majority of the graves in the lower section of the graveyard. Today, it looks like this, below. Still, there is much work to do.
|Absence of wineberry plants in lower portion of cemetery, winter, 2017|
|"Ecograss" test patch in upper portion of cemetery|
|Same section as shown in photo above, but made in 2012.|
|Log trail through cemetery|
|At end of MLK Day, "Repair the World" leader addresses volunteers|
After my teammate and I finished clearing the branches, I spent an hour or so pulling weeds and wineberry stalks from graves. I stopped every so often to take a photo of the other volunteers doing the same. It was heartening to see children helping as well. At the end of the day, Neil Sukonik (president of the Friends group) and the leaders of Repair the World addressed the volunteers, thanked them, and ended the event with a prayer.
References and Further Reading:
Friends of the Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery on Facebook
Friends of the Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery Website
For a fascinating bird‘s-eye-view of the Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery, click this YouTube link from the Beth David Reform Congregation website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=Q4G_sZ1hpeM
Ed Snyder's “Cemetery Traveler” blog posts about the Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery in chronological order: