The guidelines listed below for the JCA Green Burial area are to promote a legacy of care and respect for the earth as well as to allow the body to degrade naturally and rejoin the elements. In this process, we aim to perpetuate the natural cycle of life and death.

Location: 222 Leverett Road, Shutesbury, between Pratt Corner Road and W. Pelham Road.

Plots: Each grave plot will be 5 ft x 8 ft.

We follow guidelines for green burial and dig graves 3-4 feet deep (to the bottom of the coffin). Embalming and cosmetology are not allowed. Cremated remains may not be interred in the cemetery. If the body is donated to medical science, the remains cannot be buried in the forest green section, but can be buried in either the original section or the proposed green lawn section of the cemetery.

The synagogue has sacred books (i.e. old prayerbooks) that must be discarded respectfully. The repository is called a genial (Hebrew for “hidden away”). The burial of sacred books with the body is allowed and encouraged.

Sequential burial is used to be sensitive to the root systems because the green section is located in a pine forest. If plots are desired next to each other, both need to be purchased at the same time. Upon the opening of the first grave, the second plot(s) also needs to be dug (with an excavation charge) and refilled, so that the location of the excavated grave can be marked. This also means that individuals cannot request specific sites in the cemetery for burial. Rather, the most recent person who has died will be buried next to the last person buried in sequential fashion, as explained above.

Plan: We follow the attached map of the green section to the best of our ability.

Grave Markers: There will be no standing markers, headstones, or statues, only markers set flush to the ground, no larger than about 1 ft x 2 ft (288 Headstones used in the original section need cement foundations which are not allowed in the Green cemetery. Markers are set dry, without a foundation, and may be inscribed or engraved. Markers may not be cut or polished.

Our research tells us that non-granite stone will not wear well and is difficult to engrave upon. Therefore, we recommend using locally quarried grey granite, which can be purchased at Dorsey Monuments in Amherst or Negus & Taylor in Greenfield. The family makes arrangements for markers. The monument dealer, in consultation with the cemetery committee, will install the marker. Markers are, of course, optional.

Graves: Graves may take several years to settle back to the original ground level. Sometimes, graves settle unevenly even from one day to the next. Graves will be re-mounded periodically.

Burial containers: Burial vaults, grave liners and caskets containing any metal or other non-biodegradable materials are not permitted. Only burial in biodegradable shrouds is permitted. This includes cotton, wool, silk, or hemp.

Two burial options are available:

  • A natural burial trundle (a wooden tray with handles) for carrying and burying the shrouded body. The trundle is buried and cannot be reused.
  • A coffin made of biodegradable materials. Douglass Funeral Home has worked with the JCA Cemetery Committee to ensure that several certified green burial coffins are available.

Plantings: Permanent plantings are not allowed in the burial area. The JCA reserves the right to remove all flowers, wreaths and other natural decorations without notice as soon as they become unsightly. Flags, artificial flowers and other decorations may not be used in the green section.

Charges and Donations: Families will be responsible for all expenses of burial and other funeral arrangements. See Financial Regulations for cost of plots.

JCA Approval and Oversight: All burials at the JCA cemetery must have the approval of the JCA. Please call or have your funeral director contact the JCA office at 413-256-0160.

Please Note: No burial allowed on the Jewish Sabbath or on Jewish Festivals. 

Financial Regulations

1)        Members in good standing (hereinafter members) who have paid their dues for the three (3) consecutive years immediately prior to the year of purchase (hereinafter the standard) may purchase a single burial gravesite, sometimes also called a plot.

2)        The current fee is $630 paid in full. The JCA Board of Directors may alter this price at any time. The cost of a plot does not include excavation of the gravesite, or additional costs of excavation during the winter.

3)        Members may purchase gravesites for their own use and also for others in their immediate family. The immediate family is defined as “member(s) plus dependent children under the age of 25 years”.

4)        Members also may purchase single burial plots for extended family members. The cost for each of these plots is currently $2,500. Extended family includes parents, children over the age of 25, spouses of said children, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren. Extended family for this provision does not include cousins, aunts, uncles, or their spouses, or any other family relationship or close friend.

5)        Non-members may purchase a single burial lot. The current fee for each lot is $5,000. Such purchase can be made before or after the time of death.

6)        Members who resign from the Jewish Community of Amherst have the option to keep their gravesite or sell it back to the Jewish Community of Amherst, Inc. at the price they paid for it.

Cemetery records are maintained at the JCA office