Jewish Cemetery Head Earns Fat Salary

Cedar Park Chief Among Highest-Paid Communal Leaders

Eternal Rest: The president of this New Jersey cemetery was forced to give up leadership roles at three New York cemeteries amid allegations of excessive compensation.
shulamit seidler-feller
Eternal Rest: The president of this New Jersey cemetery was forced to give up leadership roles at three New York cemeteries amid allegations of excessive compensation.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published June 11, 2012, issue of June 15, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

In 2010, the most recent year for which records are available, Klapper’s base salary was $2.1 million. According to Cedar Park’s Rose, a portion of that amount reflects the value of a deferred compensation package funded by an insurance policy that matured in 2010, which will be paid out over time.

The combined revenue of the three related organizations in 2009 was $15.8 million. A database compiled by the Economic Research Institute, which compiles data on executive compensation, shows only one person receiving a comparable salary among executives running not-for-profit cemeteries with revenues of up to $20 million.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park, a non-Jewish cemetery in Glendale, Calif., had revenue of $6 million in 2009 and paid its CEO & president a base salary of $772,000 plus a sizable bonus. But Forest Lawn claimed assets that year of $490 million, while Cedar Park claimed combined assets of $139 million. In 2010, Forest Lawn’s revenue skyrocketed to $68 million, suggesting that the cemetery operates on a different financial scale.

In the Forward’s 2011 survey of Jewish communal salaries — a survey that did not include Jewish cemeteries — only two individuals earned more than Klapper: Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center received $739,000 in 2009, while Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, received $853,000.

Yeshiva University has more than 6,000 employees. Cedar Park has fewer than 200.

In an emailed statement, Rose defended Klapper’s pay.

“[O]ur cemeteries are state of the art facilities,” Rose wrote. “We have 300 acres of property and over 25,000 crypt spaces in modern beautiful buildings. There are no other facilities like ours on the east coast. If you had visited other cemeteries, especially those in New York, you would have concluded that none offer the quality and dignity at burial, or offer mourners and visitors the opportunity to reflect in an environment like ours.”

Rose suggested that there are some individuals who hold positions at a number of otherwise unrelated cemeteries in New York whose cumulative compensations are higher than Klapper’s. Rose did not respond to an inquiry as to the names of those individuals. The Forward identified one person who is an officer at four unrelated New York cemeteries from which he earned $571,000 in 2010.

According to experts, the cemetery isn’t in violation of any rules or regulations in its compensation of Klapper. The section of the IRS code that regulates compensation by not-for-profit organizations doesn’t apply to cemeteries. New Jersey cemetery regulators have no direct say over executive compensation.

But Jewish community leaders still have concerns about the cemetery’s compensation practices. Jewish law and tradition require that bodies be buried as soon as possible after death, meaning that after a death has occurred, Jews can’t take time picking a cemetery, or choosing the day of the week when a burial takes place.

Cedar Park appears to be something of a family business. A deceased former officer, Richard Schlein, shares a surname with Jeffrey Schlein, the current vice president of the cemetery. Richard Schlein’s father, Murray Schlein, who died in 1960, served as president of Cedar Park for more than 20 years.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.