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Dozens of HOD brethren and members of the Jewish community turned out at Greenwood Cemetery on a cold, blustery morning, March 13, for the first unveiling ceremony of the Atlanta Gravestone Project. It was the culmination of cooperative venture between HOD’s Atlanta Lodges and Jewish Family & Career Services, Atlanta, bringing together two programs.
While JF&CS has worked with Dressler’s Funeral Care to provide graves for indigent and child burials, the Atlanta Lodges borrowed a program from Houston’s Lodges to place grave markers at unmarked Jewish graves in Atlanta. Three gravestones were to be unveiled, but it was discovered that one already had a stone. The ceremony continued for the graves of Leon Asner and Michael Peca.
Rabbi Judith Beiner, Community Chaplain for JF&CS in Atlanta, worked with Worthy Brothers Les Kraitzick and David Joss of Governing Lodge North America to make the arrangements. Brother Rabbi Yossi New of Congregation Beth Teffilah co-officiated with Rabbi Beiner. Worthy Brother Barry Simon arranged for and coordinated production of the grave markers. Thirteen past and current Lodge Presidents were in attendance.
Perhaps the most touching moments came when Terri Bonoff and staff members from JF&CS told the story of Asner, a Holocaust survivor, who was “the tailor to the stars” in Las Vegas and Atlanta. They described his life at the Zaban Tower and how he had a Bar Mitzvah at the age of 85,
Thirty-six unmarked Jewish graves have been identified at Greenwood, and there are others at Crest Lawn Memorial Cemetery and Arlington Memorial Park. The project’s goal is to mark all Jewish graves in Atlanta. The HOD Lodges in Atlanta will be starting fund-raising programs for the project and are accepting donations now.
The ceremony at Greenwood was previewed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and covered by WSB-TV and the Atlanta Jewish Times.
Please note as a 501(c)3 all donations are tax deductible and 100% of funds collected will be used for the program.