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Wendy first heard about the needs of the Hebrew Free Burial Association at the Engage Community Brunch last spring. Representatives from several Engage partner organizations attended and spoke about their work and need for volunteer support. One such representative was Amy Koplow, executive director of the Hebrew Free Burial Association. Prior to the brunch, Amy knew as little about Engage as Wendy did about the Hebrew Free Burial Association. 

When Wendy spoke with Amy, she learned that the Hebrew Free Burial Association’s mission is to make sure that every Jewish person in need gets a Jewish burial. They can make all the necessary arrangements for a burial at their Mt. Richmond Cemetery, on Staten Island, as well arranging for a monument and yearly kaddish.   

The Hebrew Free Burial Association provides additional services, such as keeping records of deceased individuals buried in their cemeteries. They worked with Ancestry.com to transfer those files to PDF format. People conducting genealogy searches can view those burial records. 

Wendy responds to genealogy requests. When she first started volunteering, there was a big backlog of requests. Through her work answering phones and responding to requests, there is no longer a backlog, and requests for information are current.

When I spoke with Amy, she told  me, "People in facilities and social service agencies don’t know about us.” Amy is getting assistance in spreading the word from another Engage volunteer, Phyllis Goodman. Phyllis’ professional background is in marketing. She is working with Phyllis in outreach efforts to potential clients. Together, they visit nursing homes and contact social workers to inform them of available services. 

What does Amy think of these two volunteers?  She is “grateful that Engage exists and has people who are enthusiastic and want to give back.”  She concluded our conversation by saying, “Our agency is blessed to have them....The volunteers are very high quality and very skilled.”

Would you like to volunteer for the Hebrew Free Burial Association? Are you skilled at data entry? They could still use support and assistance in entering 100 years of data in their database as well as help answering phone calls. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Rabbi Brian Fink at bfink@jccmanhattan.org or 646.505.4408.