A little about the Hebrew Cemetery

The Hebrew Cemetery of Reno was established in 1879 when the Reno Hebrew Benevolent Society purchased land near the Hillside Cemetery on Angel Street located West of the University of Nevada. While the Benevolent Society folded in 1907 (the result of a floundering mining industry and economic downturn), burials continued at the Hebrew Cemetery under the supervision of a few select families.

Ten years later, in 1917, Reno’s first official Jewish congregation was formed, bringing with it the formation of a Chevera Kaddisha committee which oversaw burial for almost half a century.


We are here today to remember those who have gone before us...

Our Traditions

In keeping with the traditions of the original Burial Society, the Hebrew Cemetery Inc. does not “sell” land, but instead charges for burial rights. In addition to the costs of a burial right, families must also plan for casket, marker, funeral and related costs.

Burial. The local customs call for an in-ground burial, a plain, wooden casket, the optional Tahara (ritual washing and dressing of the body) by the Chevera Kadisha, and graveside ceremony, as well as a simple stone marker.

K'rov e Yisrael. (those that are “Close to Israel”). Non-Jewish spouses can be buried with each other so long as the memorial tablets do not recognize another religion. While non-Jewish services are not allowed, the officiating Rabbi makes the final determination as to what ceremony is acceptable.

Cremation. Our tradition does not promote voluntary cremation. But the Hebrew Cemetery recognizes that choices are made by some that are not traditional. For those who have been cremated, there is a special part of the Hebrew Cemetery for those remains.

Visiting the Grave. It is traditional upon visitation to leave a small stone on the marker. Large floral arrangements on stands, watermelon size rocks, golf clubs, bicycles, tennis shoes, old cell phones, etc. do not belong in cemetery, but in some other special place.

Preparing For The Future

As Directors of the Cemetery, we are often asked for advice from someone who is planning for a loved one. Making pre-need arrangements for one’s final rest is an act of kindness to your family. It is a wise choice both emotionally and economically to spare your loved ones from making heart-wrenching decisions at a time when they are most vulnerable.

Yes, I know that there are those who aren’t ready to have that discussion, and I respect that, for those of you that hold that thought, here is a quick primmer of what you should think about:

1. A Will or Trust. It is important for your loved one to clarify the disposition of their estate to avoid family disputes which may exist without direction from your loved one.
2. An Ethical Will. This is not a legal document., but a way for your loved one to link the reader to both family and cultural history, to clarify ethical and spiritual values, and communicate to future generations, how they want to be remembered.
3. A Funeral Plan so that the costs and many key decisions have already been made. For a will or trust, you need an attorney. For an ethical will, you need a rabbi or close friend. For funeral plans, you need a funeral director.

When making arrangements for your loved one, you need to know there are three parts.
Funeral and casket costs
Acquisition of a Plot or Burial Right

At the time of need, people tell us they want to do what is traditional for a funeral. In the next breath, they then ask “What’s traditional?”

In-ground burial, a plain-wood unlined casket, a marker, the services of a chevera kadisha in ritual washing and dressing the body, and a graveside ceremony are what is customary for a “traditional” funeral in our community. When planning to do something other than traditional, the officiating Rabbi makes the determination of what is acceptable. As far as funeral and casket costs are concerned. Today, I am pleased to announce that Walton’s is now offering several discounted Jewish-specific pre-need plans for your consideration.

As far as burial in the sacred grounds of our own Hebrew Cemetery both Temple Sinai and Temple Emanu-el transferred their cemetery holdings the Hebrew Cemetery Corporation in 2009. The Corporation now manages all of the operations. Each congregation maintains voting members on the board. The Corporation continues to honor our history of serving all the Jewish families in the community, not just Temple members. Some frequently asked questions about our local practices are:

Burial of a non-Jewish spouse. The term we use is K'rove Yisrael (those that are “Close to Israel”) and spouses can be buried with each other so long as the memorial tablets do not recognize another religion.

Cremation. Suffice it to say, our tradition does not promote voluntary cremation. But for those who have been cremated, there is a special part of the Hebrew Cemetery for those remains.

Since the Cemetery has been around since 1878, we are sometimes asked if there is enough land for our community’s needs. At our current occupancy rate, we have enough graves to last us for another 10 years or so. Yes, we are actively trying to increase capacity either in the current or some future location. We will keep you posted as soon as there is something to announce.

A few notes about pricing burial rights. Remember, burial rights are separate from the funeral costs! If a Temple member is in good-standing, as defined by this Temple Board, prior to October 6, 2003 (Erev Yom Kippur, 5764), that member is entitled to one (1) free burial right. If your loved one became a member after that date, they are entitled to a substantial discount off burial right prices. For those who are truly in need, the Directors can make pricing accommodations when the time comes. Please see me, Mike Medvin, or Suzanne Silverman if you want to know more.

The last item is the purchase of a marker. We are told that Jacob put a marker on Rachel’s grave in Genesis. A marker may or may not be included in your funeral plan. Our local tradition is that a marker can be placed at any time; however, the unveiling ceremony usually takes place about one year after the funeral. Recently, there was a newspaper article about floral holders and metal plaque’s being removed from markers and then sold for scrap. Yes, it has happened in our cemetery as far as we can tell, no name plates are missing. We are encouraging people to order “all-stone” markers to help avoid this desecration. You also need to know that markers do not become Cemetery property once installed; in fact, you will notice that they are probably covered on your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Lastly, when visiting the grave of your loved one, it is traditional to leave a small stone on the marker. Large floral arrangements on stands, watermelon size rocks, golf clubs, bicycles, tennis shoes, old cell phones all may have a place in your heart, but they belong in some other special place.

For those curious about where the Hebrew Cemetery is located, we are over by the University, one block west on Angel Street. If you are travelling North on Virginia Street from I-80, turn left on 11th Street, travel two blocks, and then make another left on Angel. It will be the first cemetery you come to.

For additional information, please contact the following volunteers:

Steve Matles       775.746.8438
Mike Medvin       775.348.8094
Suzanne Silverman    775.622.6941