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Congregation B'nai Israel of St.Petersburg

 

 

The Jewish Burial Society of Pinellas County, Inc.

 

Chapel Hill Memorial Park cemetery, in operation since 1968, is now owned and operated by the Jewish Burial Society of Pinellas County, Inc.  Our sole mission is to operate and grow Chapel Hill in a manner that shows respect and care for our decedents and their families.  


 

Our History

Chapel Hill Memorial Park (also known as Menorah Gardens) was originally founded in 1968, by Congregation B'nai Israel (CBI) of St. Petersburg, with a donation of land by Dr. Philip Benjamin for a Jewish cemetery. The cemetery was founded with the goal to provide a beautiful final resting place in perpetuity for CBI’s members and the Jewish Community as a whole. CBI built the cemetery and successfully operated it for 30 years. 

 

After some time, CBI was presented with an offer to sell the cemetery to Stewart Enterprises (Stewart), a large, publicly held corporation that owned and operated cemeteries and nursing homes. In the sale, CBI contractually protected its interests and those of the Jewish Community with respect to Stewart's operations of Menorah Gardens; requiring that it be operated as a Jewish cemetery in accordance with Jewish law and tradition. Over time, CBI realized that there was no practical method by which to require Stewart to maintain the cemetery in accordance with CBI’s own high standards. In its later years of ownership, Stewart let the upkeep and image of the cemetery diminish, which became a great concern to CBI and certain members of the Jewish Community.

 

In 2010, Stewart offered to sell the cemetery back to CBI at a nominal price, as operationally it offered no more financial benefit to Stewart.  Unfortunately, even at a low price, CBI was not financially able to re-acquire the cemetery, nor take on the risks of its operations. However, certain members of the Jewish Community believed strongly that the cemetery should be owned and controlled by the Jewish Community and should be restored to the beautiful asset of the community that it once had been. 

 

So, in 2011, the Jewish Burial Society of Pinellas County, Inc. was created as an independent 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation.  A fundraising campaign in the Jewish Community was successfully conducted to raise funds for the acquisition of the cemetery and to provide seed money for the initial operating needs of the cemetery, and after a year of negotiations with Stewart, the Jewish Burial Society reacquired the cemetery. 

 

The Jewish Burial Society is governed by an independent Board of Directors comprising members of Congregation B’nai Israel and Temple Beth El (TBE) of St. Petersburg, Florida, representing their respective institutions and the greater Jewish community.

JBS Board of Directors:

 

 

 

Doug Negretti – Chairman

 

David Robbins- Co Vice-Chairman

 

Dr. Michael Slomka- Co Vice-Chairman

 

Greg Sembler- Treasurer

 

Dr. Mark Gordon- Secretary

 

David C. Gross, Ph.D.- Director

 

Dr. Harold Seder- Director

 

 


In the short amount of time since 2011, the Jewish Burial Society has turned the cemetery around; returning it to “Jewish hands”, re-beautifying the park and working diligently and successfully to enhance its financial security.  

How does the Jewish Burial Society contribute to Jewish life in Pinellas County?

The Torah teaches us that when a person dies, it is only his/her body that is gone, but his/her soul lives forever – so, CHMP is very much alive.  The Jewish Burial Society accepts the honor and responsibility of preserving and protecting the dignity of Jewish families and friends who have already gone to their eternal resting place at CHMP, and the families we will serve in the future.  CHMP is the ONLY Jewish owned and Jewish operated cemetery in Pinellas County.  As such, it is the only cemetery that is committed to continuous Jewish ownership and operation for the purpose of ensuring burials and grounds maintenance in accordance with Jewish law.  

 

Perpetual Care Endowment Fund

To ensure that our cemetery will continue to exist forever and be maintained in the same excellent manner that it is today, the JBS in 2020 established an Endowment for Perpetual Care.  To date we have raised more than $2 million and are so grateful for this generous response from our Jewish community. 

We reached out directly to CBI and TBE members with family at Chapel Hill who were extraordinarily supportive of our efforts.   

 

The decision to establish an Endowment Fund was rooted in the cemetery’s position of strength as evidenced by its financial performance and grounds improvements.  In its commitment to past, current and future generations, the Board’s vision includes designing a “forever” strategy to safeguard the mission of CHMP while minimizing the burden on the community of an annual fundraising drive.  The Endowment Fund will secure the Cemetery’s continuous mission and financial stability “forever”. With continued community stewardship, the resulting Endowment Fund should be adequate to sustain CHMP in perpetuity.

Future Capital Projects 

The Endowment Fund will sustain Chapel Hill in perpetuity; however, we know there will always be a need for upgrades and projects to enhance the Cemetery.  Some of the future capital projects on our list include a new office, repaving the roadways and adding gates.

 

For more information on how you can donate to either the Endowment Fund or future project funds please visit our website: http://chapelhillmemprk.org/donations/     Or Contact our Office: 727-531-0475



Website: http://chapelhillmemprk.org  

You can keep up with current projects, fund raising efforts as well as look up information on our current burials. We offer a “Find a Grave” option where you can look up the location of a decedent and find the plot location. We also offer Printable maps for download which can be used with the plot locator to help pinpoint an exact location.


 

For information on how to purchase plots, update your contact information or general Cemetery questions, please contact Charity Acord, our office Administrator, at 727-531-0475.

Sun, November 27 2022 3 Kislev 5783