Clover Hill is expanding the landing to the entrance of the Davidson/Hermelin Chapel.
Clover Hill is expanding the landing to the entrance of the Davidson/Hermelin Chapel.

The expansion comes at an important time when COVID-19 cases continue to remain high.

The 104-year-old Jewish cemetery, opened in 1918 by Congregation Shaarey Zedek, is hoping that the renovated gathering space will provide comfort and convenience for mourners to focus on what’s most important following the death of a loved one: healing.
With the ground broken in December of last year, Ken and Mari Barnett have endowed a 1,000-square-foot glass-enclosed room overlooking the cemetery where families can host shivahs and guests after unveilings. It will be named in their honor as the Barnett Family Shiva Room and is designed by architect David Lubin. The project is now nearing completion.

Combined with the Berman Remembrance Center and the Bleznak Family Patio, Clover Hill Park Cemetery executive director Kim Raznik believes the new offerings will make one of the most difficult and emotional experiences in life just a little bit easier for families in grieving.

“They can meet with their loved ones in a private area,” Raznik says. “No one would have to leave the premises and drive somewhere.”

Changing Times

Raznik says fewer and fewer people are holding full-week shivahs nowadays because it can be difficult for out-of-town relatives to be in town that long. Plus, the energy and time spent setting up shivahs has become increasingly challenging for working families.

Now, most shivahs are reduced to just one to three days. The ongoing pandemic has also changed the way shivahs are held, leaving some wary of gathering inside their homes. Instead, families are seeking spaces with room to adequately social distance and outdoor areas, a void Raznik believes the renovated Shiva Center can begin to fill.

“This would be an opportunity to have the shivah outside of your home,” Raznik says of the expanded Barnett Family Shiva Room, which can accommodate more than 100 guests in conjunction with the Berman Remembrance Center and the Bleznak Family Patio.

Clover Hill Park Cemetery has also hired Jacob Buchman as its new engagement
coordinator to work directly with the renovated shivah space. Buchman will be helping families coordinate the details for set up, food delivery, event supervision and cleanup. In addition, Buchman can lead a minyan service if requested by the family.

Clover Hill is still determining pricing to rent the space. The fee to use the expanded facilities will depend on time of day, duration and number of guests. The cemetery also has a list of preferred caterers to use who can provide kosher meals.

Centralized Location

Typically, after unveilings, Raznik says families tend to “splinter off.” Instead, the renovated space offers one centralized location for families and friends to meet, share food and remember their loved one without ever leaving the grounds of Clover Hill.
“People don’t have to rent a restaurant,” she says. “They can stay here and gather somewhere more meaningful.”

The expansion comes at an important time when COVID-19 cases continue to remain high. Throughout the 1,000 square feet within the Barnett Family Shiva Room and with the additional space on the Bleznak Family Patio, Raznik says there is plenty of room.
“Both spaces combined, there’s a lot of circulation for COVID-19 awareness and distancing,” she explains. Plus, “if people wanted to have an intimate service and the weather wasn’t permitting to have something outside, they could come inside.”

Additional Expansions

In addition to the Barnett Family Shiva Room expansion, Clover Hill is expanding the landing to the entrance of the Davidson/Hermelin Chapel, which is now 10 feet longer.
The new terrace, funded by Harriett and Gregg Orley, is designed to provide additional space for gathering before and after a service, overflow for chapel services, and serve as a program space for speakers and events.

Orley Chapel Terrace
Orley Chapel Terrace

With more than 15,000 burials at Clover Hill and an average of 200 burials a year, Raznik says the cemetery plans to use its newly expanded resources for a high percentage of those services.

“People can focus on what they want to at that moment,” Raznik says. “They don’t have to worry about all of the details.”

For more information about the Shiva Center, visit www.cloverhillpark.org/berman-shiva-center.

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