Plenty of Money Made at 'Not-for-Profit' Cemetery

Paid $8.5M to Management Company That Controls Its Board

Digging for Gold: The board of not-for-profit Beth Israel Memorial Park in Woodbridge, N.J., is controlled by a management company, which earned a whopping $8.5 million in fees from the cemetery. The arrangement is legal, but raises eyebrows among watchdogs.
josh nathan-kazis
Digging for Gold: The board of not-for-profit Beth Israel Memorial Park in Woodbridge, N.J., is controlled by a management company, which earned a whopping $8.5 million in fees from the cemetery. The arrangement is legal, but raises eyebrows among watchdogs.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published December 11, 2012, issue of December 14, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 5 of 5)

StoneMor’s management of Beth Israel doesn’t appear to have resulted in higher costs for clients. An adult burial at the cemetery costs $1,625, according to a May 2011 pricing chart, roughly on par with other New Jersey Jewish cemeteries. Some worry about the future, however, and whether for-profit companies seeking to win profits out of not-for-profit cemeteries are failing to ensure the burial grounds’ long-term survival.

That concern was behind the New York cemetery board’s efforts in the late 1990s to ban the management agreements with for-profit companies. “The management agreement is a superfluous agreement which does not increase the maintenance or care of the cemetery,” said Richard Fishman, director of the New York State Department of State’s Division of Cemeteries. In the long term, Fishman said he had worried that the for-profits wouldn’t stand by the cemeteries. “If there is no more profit, why would you do it? Then these people would disappear and the cemetery would be left on the hook,” Fishman said.

Cemetery reform advocates in New Jersey say that they hope reform of the state’s cemetery regulation regime will bring New Jersey in line with New York in areas such as management fees.

“We want the nonprofit cemeteries to make enough money to maintain themselves and to pay the people who work there, obviously,” said Weinberg, the state lawmaker. She said that the amount Beth Israel had paid in management fees was “quite phenomenal.”

Weinberg said that her cemetery reform bills would be considered in a state senate committee beginning on December 17.

“Our main goal has always been to find a way for the state of New Jersey to regulate cemeteries the way New York State does,” said Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer, a former president of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis who has been engaged in the board’s cemetery reform efforts. “This legislation at least helps try to rein that in a little bit.”

Cemetery officials, on the other hand, say that the business is harder than it looks. David Shipper, who now owns dozens of cemeteries and funeral homes as president and CEO of Midwest Memorial Group and Indiana Memorial Group, among other firms, said that people don’t appreciate the costs involved. “When a backhoe costs $80,000 and the tent and chairs cost $8,000, it’s a tough business and people don’t understand what it costs to be ready for an interment, especially a Jewish interment,” Shipper said.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @joshnathankazis


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!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • 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.