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mesch headstoneTemple Beth-El’s Cemetery Committee provides oversight for Block 40 at Elmwood Cemetery, and serves as an ombudsman to assist families and the Elmwood administration to ensure proper maintenance of gravesites. The Committee is available to assist families with the selection of appropriate grass, shrubs and flowers.

Twice each year, the Committee holds a Clean-Up Day, involving adults and young people from the Beth-El community. The Committee supervises fertilization and weed control services and coordinates special maintenance projects. For information and assistance, or to express a concern contact Barbara Bonfield at or Bernard Stern at

Directions from Temple Beth-El to Elmwood Cemetery:
Head southeast on Highland Ave S toward 27th Place S.
Turn RIGHT at 27th Place S.
Take 1st RIGHT onto Niazuma Ave S.
Continue onto 26th Street S.
Continue onto 24th Street S.
Turn LEFT at 6th Avenue S.
Turn LEFT at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Go in entrance and bear RIGHT
At the T, turn LEFT following the yellow line
Pass crypts on LEFT, avoid right hand curve-off
Stay STRAIGHT until the giant brown mushroom
Turn RIGHT at mushroom
Turn LEFT at T ahead
Curve around and Block 40 is on RIGHT
Rock Garden is in a clearing toward the LEFT as you are standing facing Block 40
Temple Beth-El Foundation purchases land from Elmwood Cemetery, then in turn makes plots available to its members for burials. A purchase of a Writ of Interment may be made at any time. Contact the Temple office and the synagogue member responsible for sales will make an appointment to accompany you to the cemetery and will assist you in selecting your site.

If at all possible, it is advisable that you purchase your lot well before you think you will need it. The average purchase price of a cemetery lot at Beth-El is $3000. This figure is subject to change each year. Please contact David Reznik at 205.266.3992 to arrange for selection of your lot.

Payment for a lot is made to the Temple Beth-El Foundation. After you have paid the full purchase price, you will receive a Writ of Interment from the Temple. Beth-El office

Persons buried in Beth-El’s Block 40 must be of the Jewish faith as defined by the committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative movement. The funeral must be conducted according to the guidelines established by Temple Beth-El.

A lot owned by a Temple Beth-El member may be used for the burial of the member, his/her children and/or parents. No others shall be buried in said lot, except by special permission of Temple Beth-El’s Board of Directors.

Lots may be sold or transferred if the member has paid them in full. The Cemetery Committee must receive an official request for such sale or transfer in writing from the member. The person purchasing the lot must meet Temple Beth-El’s criteria for burial at Block 40. The owner must receive written approval from the Cemetery Committee before proceeding with any action to sell or transfer a lot.

Temple Beth-El has worked with Johns Ridout to provide a funeral in keeping with the Jewish law and standards for the conservative movement. Primarily this means that the body shall be washed and prepared for burial, wrapped in a linen burial shroud. (Tachrichim) The Chevra Kadisha, comprising members of the synagogue who have made this service their special mitzvah, performs this service.

Temple Beth-El has arranged a reasonable standard purchase price for all funerals for members. The price includes care of the body after it is brought to the funeral home by the Chevra Kadisha. The price also includes a beautiful wooden casket and a modified dome, which covers the casket but still meets Halachic requirements. Johns Ridout will prepare an obituary or you may prepare your own, submitting it through Johns Ridout to the Birmingham News. The price for the obituary will vary depending on the number of inches utilized in copy.

In addition, Johns Ridout will, on the day of the funeral, be responsible for providing a speaker system, podium, guest book, yamulkes and a shiva candle. Arrangements for opening the grave and for tent rental is made with Elmwood Cemetery. If the family chooses to sit with the body and to have visitation before the funeral, Johns Ridout will provide a private parlor.

The family has several options for the actual funeral service. They may opt to hold a simple graveside service at the cemetery with the Rabbi conducting the service. The second option is for a more formal service in one of the parlors at Johns Ridout. The funeral home offers rooms of varying sizes to meet the needs for a large group or smaller ones. A graveside service will follow at the cemetery. The family may choose to have police escort for which they will pay separately.

In the third option, the family may request because of the size of expected attendance or inclement weather that the service be held in the main sanctuary at Temple Beth-El. Arrangements must be made with the Rabbi and the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Special fees are required for use of facilities. This service will also be followed by a graveside service and the family may choose whether to have police escort.

Several companies are available through which purchase of a monument is possible. After selecting the style of monument, the family is asked to work with the Rabbi to ensure proper Hebrew inscriptions. A headstone with the family name is placed at the head of the site and centered between graves. If a family site includes more than four graves on one side, a larger headstone may be chosen. Footstones are placed at the foot of the individual graves in family plots. The footstone should be placed so that someone facing the headstone can read it.

Families may share the headstone when two different families own opposite sides of the plot. The first family that purchases the lot and places a monument will share the other side of the monument with the second family. At the time that the second family purchases their lot, they shall pay the first family one half the cost of the monument, excluding any costs incurred for engraving paid for by the first family.

Families are asked to consider the overall appearance of the cemetery when selecting their monuments. Size and placement of the monument must comply with Elmwood Cemetery requirements. In addition, Temple Beth-El reserves the right to require the owner of a lot or grave to make changes as the Rabbi and Board of Directors direct.

Maintenance of pleasant surroundings for loved ones buried in Block 40 is a priority with Temple Beth-El. While Elmwood Cemetery is responsible for mowing the grass and maintaining the overall appearance of the cemetery, more work is required to ensure that our cemetery not only meets but also exceeds cemetery standards. To ensure that this expectation is met, every member who owns a lot at Elmwood’s Block 40 is asked to share in the cost of maintenance by paying an annual fee of $100. This money is used to hire a regular maintenance crew and to pay for fertilizing and watering as required. An overall landscaping plan will be followed with improvements made each year.

Notice of the amount due will be sent to members, or the next of kin, in January each year with payment expected within 30 days.

Members may opt to maintain their own gravesite(s) in which case they will obtain a special marker that indicates that no maintenance shall be provided by either Elmwood or Temple Beth-El. If a member chooses this option, (s)he must maintain a regular schedule for maintenance.

Some families have chosen to have special landscaping installed on their lot. In that event, the family must assume responsibility for its maintenance. In planning their landscaping, families are asked to choose shrubbery that will not grow taller than their headstone or expand to cover the headstone. Plants that tolerate drought should be selected. The Cemetery Committee reserves the right to have plants and decorations removed if they become unsightly. Cost of removal will be charged to the family.

Some families desire to add other plantings such as a tree, a bench or to install other architectural feature to their site. Please consult with either the Chairman of Sales, or the Chairman of the Maintenance Committee of the synagogue before making any additions to the site. All decisions related to planting of trees and the addition of major architectural additions must be coordinated with the Cemetery Committee and with Elmwood.

Over the years, headstones may become discolored particularly those located under trees. Moss and mildew, bird droppings, discoloration from red soil being splashed against the stone all contributes to an unattended appearance. When these problems are indicated, the stone should be cleaned. Because this must be done using some form of acid, it is recommended that someone with experience undertake cleaning. You may select a company that sells stones or engage the assistance of a workman for Temple Beth-El to clean your stone.

If you visit the cemetery alone, it is advisable that you stop by the office at Elmwood Cemetery and request a security guard to accompany you.
If you visit the cemetery and find conditions in need of repair, please report them to the Chairman of the Cemetery Maintenance Committee (Barbara Bonfield, 879-5814) or to the Temple Beth-El office (933-2740). Every effort will be made to address your concerns in a timely manner.
Honor the memory of a loved one and enhance the beauty of the Temple Beth-El Memorial Rock Garden in Elmwood Cemetery through one of the options below. Click to download order form.