Filed Under Religion

Shaare Tzedek Cemetery

The Shaare Tzedek Cemetery is a dedicated gravesite for practicing Orthodox Jews in the Salt Lake City area. Though smaller than its sister cemeteries, B’nai Israel and Montefiore, the recently rededicated Shaare Tzedek is nonetheless a quiet and peaceful site for remembrance and service.

Cemetery Shaare Tzedek has stood for over a century and is one of the three Jewish cemeteries in the Salt Lake City metro. It can be found at 915 East 11th Avenue. Shaare Tzedek is designated for Orthodox adherents of Judaism, whereas its sister cemeteries, Montefiore and B’nai Israel, serve Conservative and Reform Jews, respectively. Orthodox Jews believe that the Torah (both the written word and oral traditions) were divinely revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai and have been faithfully maintained throughout the centuries. Being Orthodox entails a strict adherence to Jewish law (halakha). Practices include Sabbath-day observance, following Kosher dietary restrictions, and regular study of the Torah. To be buried in an Orthodox Jewish cemetery, one must be an Orthodox Jew, undergo rituals of washing and dressing, and generally be buried in a plain wooden casket without internal or external adornment. 

These lands in the larger Salt Lake City Cemetery were set aside for the use of the Jewish community by Brigham Young in 1866. The care and upkeep of these three cemeteries is entrusted to the Kol Ami Cemetery Association. This association is run on a volunteer basis by members of Salt Lake’s synagogue, Congregation Kol Ami. Members of the board serve as volunteers. The guiding principles of the Kol Ami Cemetery Association are Kavod Ha Meit: showing honor and respect for the dead; Nichum Aveilim: comforting those who are mourning a loss; and simplicity: all are equal in death. While any member of the Jewish community may be buried in one of the three cemeteries, each graveyard has slightly different requirements. Those wanting to be buried with non-Jewish spouses are only permitted to do so in the Reform cemetery. Both Conservative and Orthodox cemeteries require a ceremonial washing of the body before burial, but that practice is mandatory in Reform cemeteries. 

The Shaare Tzedek Cemetery is located just above the sprawling expanse of the Salt Lake City Cemetery, a few blocks north of the B’nai Israel and Montefiore cemeteries. It is the smallest of the three Jewish cemeteries. Salt Lake’s Orthodox Jewish community and synagogue faded around 1930, largely due to financial reasons and fewer Orthodox Jews as opposed to Conservative and Reform Jews in the city. The Shaare Tzedek Cemetery was recently rededicated– a very rare circumstance, but necessary because the western part of the burial ground, though original to the cemetery, had never been dedicated. That issue was resolved in 2023. Shortly after the rededication, the Kol Ami Cemetery Board held a tree-planting ceremony to further protect and beautify the space. 

Images

Cemetery Gate
Cemetery Gate Photo taken by Isabella Holt.
Gravestones
Gravestones Photo taken by Isabella Holt.
Grave Detail
Grave Detail Photo taken by Isabella Holt.
Grave Detail
Grave Detail Photo taken by Isabella Holt.

Location

Metadata

Isabella Holt, Brigham Young University, “Shaare Tzedek Cemetery,” Intermountain Histories, accessed April 15, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/763.