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Hakafa Cemetery History and Current Options

It is a traditional responsibility of a Jewish community to provide burial space for its members. Burial options have been arranged for Hakafa members desiring them, both at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights and at Willow Lawn Memorial Park in Vernon Hills. 

Shalom Memorial Park for Traditional In-Ground Burial

Hakafa was founded in 1984 and established a cemetery section in the Mt. Zion section of Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights in 1986. About fifty plots are known to have been purchased by present or past Hakafa members at Shalom, but many of them are not in this section.  At least seven burials have taken place in the section. Only Jewish members of our congregation can be buried in the Hakafa section or anywhere else at Shalom Park, except in an area specially designated for interfaith burial. The Hakafa section in Shalom continues to be available to our members and their families for traditional in-ground burial. Plots can be bought before they are needed with a payment plan or for full payment at the time of need. Plots can of course also be purchased anywhere at Shalom.

As of May 2020, the price of burial rights in a plot in this area is $3995. Burial rights in other available areas of the cemetery cost up to $9975. In the interfaith section, they are $6000, and there are currently twenty-four available plots in this section. The additional cost of an actual burial, the opening and closing of the grave, is currently $3800. The cemetery also requires the purchase of a burial vault, with the least expensive costing more than $1000. 

Willow Lawn Memorial Park for Green Burial 

In 2012, Hakafa looked to find a cemetery where any member of our community could be buried. While searching for such a cemetery, we had the opportunity to help develop a cemetery in which burials would have less environmental impact, a “green” cemetery. 

Green burial uses less resources than traditional American burial in several ways: only simple wooden caskets or those made of other easily biodegradable materials may be used; shrouds alone may be used for burial; the graves are dug by hand instead of by gas-powered machines; no burial vaults requiring cement or other non-biodegradable materials are used around the caskets; fertilizing, watering, and mowing of grass is not done as the area is wooded throughout; and simple boulder markers with optional brass plaques are used. Cremains can also be buried “greenly” with a biodegradable urn and no grave vault. “Flameless cremation” is a more environmentally friendly option to traditional cremation that is now available in Illinois.

Hakafa’s section in Willow Lawn Nature Trails is currently unique in the area both as a Jewish green cemetery and as a Jewish cemetery allowing for the burial of any of the congregation’s members.

The Nature Trails section of Willow Lawn Memorial Park in Vernon Hills opened in 2013 when Hakafa was joined by Lomdim Chavurah to purchase the first plots in this wooded area. Together with Lomdim we consecrated our section as a Jewish area with the provision that all of our members, as well as non-Jewish close relatives of our members, could be buried there. Additional plots were purchased later in 2013 and again in 2014, for a total of fifty plots. These were sold by the end of 2019. In addition, a new survey of the area in the summer of 2019 resulted in Hakafa being given six additional full plots, as well as two plots suitable for cremains, at no cost to the congregation. As of May 2020, only two single full plots and the two cremains plots remain unsold in this area. An additional four plots adjoining Hakafa’s were purchased by a Hakafa member, for a total of sixty adjoining plots in our consecrated section. There have been four Hakafa burials in this area. 

In May 2020, the congregation purchased additional adjoining plots that include both cremains plots and regular plots, The cremains plots can be reconfigured to allow regular burial, so that we have potentially six additional pairs of plots. Prices for these plots will remain at $2550 for full plots and $1760 for cremains plots until they are all sold. The opening/closing cost as of May 2020 is $1895 for either regular or cremains plots.There are currently no more plots that are adjacent to the plots we now own. Plots bought directly from Willow Lawn currently cost $3170 for regular plots and $2334 for cremains plots; these prices generally rise every year.

To purchase plots, please communicate with Deborah Brown to find out how to choose from the available plots. This can be done by either looking at a map or visiting the cemetery. When a plot or plots have been chosen, a check is sent to the congregation. It is possible to pay the full price or to set up a payment plan over a twelve month period. When the plot is fully paid for, there is an additional state-mandated fee, currently $25, to transfer the plot from Hakafa to the individual owner. The fee is used for cemetery maintenance. The cemetery then provides a deed to the buyer. No burial can take place in a plot until the deed has been transferred.

Buying directly from the cemetery will not result in burial within our consecrated section and can be expected to cost significantly more than buying from Hakafa.

If you would like to visit Willow Lawn or get more information, please contact Deborah Brown or Rabbi Elder

Here is a link to photos of the green section at Willow Lawn Memorial Park.

Sun, May 26 2024 18 Iyar 5784