My father died in his sleep in his apartment during the early morning hours of September 29, 2015. His aide phoned to say that he was unresponsive, and after medically trained personnel confirmed his death, he was transported to the Chapel where his funeral service was to take place the following morning. We had pre-arranged the service with the Chapel, and they were to take him in the hearse to be buried in the cemetery in Philadelphia. Dad was meticulous in keeping records, and he shared the following paperwork with me:
All well and good, the voice from the Chapel on the other end of the line said, but there is one problem. We can’t take your father to the cemetery because they advised us that grave 96-1 is occupied. His spot was inadvertently sold to the Kurz family who now have a headstone that spans those four plots. What?!?! This was incredulous. Sorry, the voice on the line continued. We understand your frustration, but there’s nothing we can do. You’ll have to speak to the person in charge at the cemetery.
We phoned and were told that we had to speak to the synagogue’s agent who sold my father the plot. Except that this was the second day of Sukkos and he wasn’t answering his phone. Thankfully we were able to contact cousins in Philadelphia, explain the dire urgency, and the Press-Bohm connection came to the rescue.
A grave was made available from another location, one that ironically now contains my father’s casket in closer proximity to his brother, Edward Benjamin Press. Having such surprises during such stressful and vulnerable times is something that shouldn’t occur in this day and age. Chapels rely on grave sites given to them by mourners as being accurate, and it shouldn’t have to result in crisis mode when documentation held by the family does not match what the cemetery has on file.
In any event, we were able to make the trip behind the hearse down the Jersey Turnpike, stop in front of the synagogue to pay tribute to the shul he helped build as per my father’s wishes, say Tehilim led by my cousin Jay and acknowledge him with Kaddish before proceeding to his burial in the town that held him in such high regard.