JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Gravestone over a Baby's Grave #general

Ira Leviton

Dear Cousins,

Shelda Sandlers asked whether there any reasons why the grave of a baby who
died about 100 years ago would NOT have a gravestone...

My answer is that if a baby did not have a grave marker 100 years ago, most
of the time it was because of expense. When marked, a stillborn baby
or infant that survived only several days, not long enough to be named, might
have a stone that says (generically) "Baby [Surname]," or "Baby Boy/Girl
[Surname]," or "Child of [Father and Mother Surname]," sometimes with a date.

However, according to Jewish religious law followed by everybody at that
time, stillborn babies and those that died within 30 days of birth were not
viable births. There was no funeral, kaddish, shiva, or other mourning,
and if the parents weren't at the cemetery to attend the burial, they may
not have even known the grave location within their society plot unless they
later asked in the cemetery office, so there was often no marker. This is
still the Orthodox religious law. Conservative and Reform law nowadays
is to have funeral services for babies that die any time after birth, and
it's almost universal for even infants to have grave markers, usually
granite like everybody else. I'm not sure about the religious law is for
Conservative and Reform religious law is regarding stillbirths.

Finally, 100 years ago, grave markers for babies were often made of
sandstone or other inferior materials that eroded over time - I have seen
many children's sections, usually located at the back of a landsmanshaft plot,
with small grave markers that are often worn and sometimes completely unreadable,
or broken with just a small base remaining.


Ira Leviton
New York, N.Y.

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