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The Memory Garden

The San Francisco Bay Area will soon be home to a place unlike any other in the nation—The Memory Garden—a sacred space for people to remember losses that are often not acknowledged or talked about.

These losses take place around the time of pregnancy: miscarriages, stillbirths, and the death of an infant. They are also losses felt by individuals struggling with infertility—with unfulfilled dreams of having children—and losses experienced by those who have chosen to end a pregnancy.

The garden fills a void in how Judaism traditionally responds to these losses and to our changing community needs. More people who experience these losses are talking openly about them. Many are seeking ways to end the isolation that can accompany such losses, and they are seeking solace and support from within the Jewish community.

The Memory Garden will be located at Eternal Home Cemetery in Colma, which is operated by Sinai Memorial Chapel. It will be a quiet, contemplative space, filled with native California trees, flowers, and plants. A circle of redwood trees will surround a private space for meditation or ceremonies, and a circle of water will contain stones that can be rearranged by visitors, reflecting the tradition of placing a stone upon leaving a Jewish gravesite.

Beyond the garden itself, this effort will include outreach to the medical and religious communities to better inform them about pregnancy-related losses so they can serve and support those who experience them.

What makes our Jewish tradition so profoundly useful is that it points us to what we can do when we meet the unknown and uncontrollable. The founders of Sinai Memorial Chapel Chevra Kadisha understood that while a perinatal loss may be unnamed, a responsibility to chesed shel emet (true acts of kindness) and k’vod hamet (respect for the deceased) was what would bind us to each other and to those who came before us.

We are in the final phase of fundraising to make The Memory Garden a reality—and to create a vital addition to the Jewish response to loss.

Your donation can support the creation of The Memory Garden.

Donate

If you would like to speak with someone in person about The Memory Garden and how you can support it, please contact Sinai’s Executive Director, Samuel J. Salkin, at ssalkin@sinaichapel.org or (415) 921-3636.