Judaism has several names for a cemetery; two of them are Beit HaKevarot: a home for burial, and, curiously, Beit HaChaim: a home for the living. How is this place a home for the living? Well look around at all of us who are here today to celebrate Muriel Stolarsky. We are very much alive and each of us, in our own way, uses the memories and the examples she set to inspire and affect how we live our lives; and together we make this cemetery a “home for the living.”
It is an ancient Jewish custom to erect a matzevah—which literally means “monument”—in memory of our relatives who die—a tradition that comes from our Biblical ancestor Lit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov., who placed a monument on the grave of his beloved Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem.. Today we come together to dedicate this monument to the memory of Muriel Stolarsky, our beloved great grandmother, grandmother and mother. In recognizing Muriel in this way we create a new memory of coming together, to honor her and support one another. Unveiling Miriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance. Bat Yechezkel v’Rikvah‘s matzevah is to reveal and disclose how much we miss her and allows us to take stock of what has happened in our own lives since her death.
Download the full PDF of the ritual below.