Why Jewish people leave stones on Monuments when they visit

October 29, 2014

One of the most common Jewish cemetery customs is to leave a small stone at the grave of a loved one after saying Kaddish or visiting. Its origins are rooted in ancient times and throughout the centuries the tradition of leaving a visitation stone has become part of the act of remembrance.

 

The origin of this custom began long ago, when the deceased was not placed in a casket, but rather the body was prepared, washed, and wrapped in a burial shroud, or for a male, in his tallis (prayer shawl). Then the body would be placed in the ground, covered with dirt and then large stones would be placed atop the gravesite, preventing wild animals from digging up the remains. Over time, individuals would go back to the gravesite and continue to place stones, ensuring the security of the site and as a way to build up the “memory” of the loved one.

 

As time passed on, and carved monuments became the preferred memorial, the custom of leaving a visitation stone became a symbolic gesture–a way for the visitor to say to the loved one, “I remember you…..”.

 

JCAM provides for this custom on our cemeteries by filling receptacles with small stones for our visitors to leave, so you too, can continue on with this ancient custom of remembering.

 

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