PebblesThe Burlington Hebrew Holy Society Cemetery in South Burlington abounds with collections of pebbles on the gravestones. Early Jews were a nomadic people and, as such, traveled from place to place. When they passed a gravesite of a member of their tribe it was entirely reasonable that they would do a bit of maintenance to the site, which, in an arid environment, would mean maintaining and, perhaps, adding to the stones. By extension, a nomadic people wouldn't leave fragile plants or flowers on a grave since they would soon be moving on, unable to care for them. Flowers, food, and other rememberances that are part of memorialization practices of other cultures were not part of early Jewish burial practices. Adding more rocks simply served the same purpose. Today the practice continues as relatives bring pebbles, small stones and bits of glass from their travels to place on the gravestones of their loved ones.
As we begin our 59th year as an organization, we think it good to reflect on where we have been. People committed to our same goals of preservation, preceded us in the Vermont Old Cemetery Association, and have left us with a legacy that endures and a challenge to continue the effort.
In 1991 VOCA published the first edition of Burial Grounds of Vermont, an extensive statewide survey of Vermont’s cemeteries. The Introduction, Preface and Acknowledgements in the first few pages carry a powerful message to us from our predecessors.
The Vermont Old Cemetery Association (VOCA) was founded in 1958 by the late Prof. Leon Dean with the calling together of a few friends interested in the condition of Vermont’s old cemeteries. They soon formed a statewide association with the stated purpose of "Promoting the Restoration and Preservation of Vermont Old Cemeteries"... Read on...