BACKGROUND FOR CONGREGATIONAL VOTE ON ANNEXING
ADAS YESHURAN CEMETERY
This background is written in support of the Congregational vote to annex Adas Yeshuran Cemetery into Temple Israel, who will assume management and control along with the existing Temple Israel Cemetery.
By way of history, there are currently three Jewish Cemeteries located in San Joaquin County. The oldest of the three is the Temple Israel Cemetery that is located on a whole City block, in downtown Stockton, at the corner of Union & Acacia Streets.
It was specifically granted to the Jewish community, in 1851, by Captain Charles Weber, the founder of Stockton. It has been in continuous use since that time, with the first interment having been made in 1851.
It is currently registered as a protected historical landmark, and is also recognized as the oldest Jewish Cemetery in continuous use west of the Rocky Mountains.
The finances of the Temple Israel Cemetery are managed through a separate Temple Israel Cemetery fund that currently has a balance of approximately $90k. Income from investment of the Fund proceeds and from plot sales make the Fund generally self-sustaining.
For years, the Stockton Israel Cemetery was managed by Sandy Senderov and, since his death many years ago, by Sheldon Barr, the current superintendent who graciously serves without pay and with great dedication.
The second of the three Jewish cemeteries in San Joaquin County is named AHAVAS ACHIM, but is often affectionately referred to as the “Corren Cemetery”, to the consternation of the Corren family. It is located on South McKinley Avenue, in French Camp, SE of the intersection of Mathews Road and Interstate 5, along the westerly edge of the railroad tracks.
AHAVAS ACHIM was established in the early 1900s, and has been in continuous use since that time. Although it was founded and always utilized by the members of the Stockton Jewish Community, it was never owned or managed by Temple Israel. It has its own board which runs the cemetery, and has sufficient assets to be self-sustaining. For many years, it was wonderfully and lovingly managed by Craig Corren, who acted in the capacity of superintendent. Currently, it is managed by a number of Corren descendants, who keep the cemetery in a beautiful pristine condition.
The Congregation should be aware that this vote does NOT propose any changes to the management or ownership of AHAVAS ACHIM, known as the “Corren Cemetery”. The Congregatonal vote is SOLELY in reference to the third cemetery.
The third Jewish Cemetery in San Joaquin County, and the subject of the vote, is also located in French Camp. In fact, it is just on the eastern side of the railroad tracks, quite close to AHAVAS ACHIM, but on a completely separate parcel. It is known as ADAS YESHURAN and, like the other two cemeteries, contains the remains of individuals who were members of our Jewish community for at least the last 100 years.
ADAS YESHURON currently has insufficient funds to sustain itself; and despite the valiant efforts of Dora Rangel, who has been its “de facto” superintendent, it has been beginning to fall into a state of disrepair. For quite a while, Dora has been visiting the cemetery on a regular basis and has even been paying for the landscaping costs out of her own pocket. However, she is no longer capable of doing so.
I have long believed that it is the responsibility of Temple Israel to ensure that the burial grounds for its past members and those of the local Jewish Community are maintained in a respectful and dignified fashion, and that it is our moral and ethical obligation to do so.
However, as a past President of this Congregation, and as a board member for most of the last 40 plus years, no one is more cognizant than I of the absolute fiduciary duty of the Temple Board members to preserve the finances of the Temple and to make sure that our Temple remains solvent, both now and into the future.
While pondering how to rectify this situation, it came to my attention that the Stockton Jewish Welfare Fund, of which I have been a long-time contributor, currently has significant funds from past dinners that have never been disbursed. According to Jim Morris, the head of the Fund, his research into the issue of the proper beneficiaries of this Fund revealed that the purpose of the Stockton Welfare Fund has been, in large part, to support the local Jewish Community.
With this in mind, I discussed the issue of ADAS YESHURAN cemetery with the active members of the Stockton Jewish Welfare Fund. All of them have indicated that they would be in favor of allocating the amount of $100k to the Temple Israel Cemetery Fund, provided that ADAS YESHURAN would be deeded to Temple Israel and be owned by the Temple, and the funds would be utilized for support and maintenance of ADAS YESHURAN.
The plan would be for the $100k from the Stockton Jewish Welfare Fund to be joined with the balance of the Temple Israel Fund. Both cemeteries would be governed by a board consisting of Temple members that would also include descendants of those buried in ADAS YESHURAN.
I have discussed this, in detail, with Dora Rangel, Sheldon Barr, Rabbi Gwasdoff, and members of the executive board of the Temple. All unanimously agreed that this would be an acceptable resolution.
In order to make this happen, two things must occur. The Temple Board would need to make a motion to accept ownership of ADAS YESHURAN CEMETERY and accept the 100k from the Stockton Jewish Welfare Fund; and the Stockton Jewish Welfare fund must formally vote to allocate $100k to Temple Israel for this purpose.
After researching the financial implications of joining ADAS YESHURAN, including anticipated yearly income and expenses, the Temple Board voted unanimously, with the approval of the Board’s attorney, to approve this transfer. Although it is not apparently necessary according to our Bylaws, the Board decided to also present this transfer for a vote at the Congregational meeting.
In the interim, the Stockton Jewish Welfare Fund voted and made a commitment to transfer 100k to the Cemetery Israel Cemetery Fund for support of ADAS YESHURAN, provided that Temple Israel accepts the transfer.
This is clearly a one-time opportunity to fulfill the ethical obligations of our Jewish community without putting additional financial stress on our Temple. If we miss this opportunity to act, and kick the can down the road further to the next generation, the future Jewish community may not then have the will or resources to take action to preserve our Jewish heritage, the Stockton Jewish Welfare Fund may not have the resources to allocate for this purpose, and ADAS YESHURAN may deteriorate to the point of not being economically feasible to be sustained financially.
Based upon all of the above factors, the Board recommends that the Congregation vote to consent to Temple Israel accepting management and control of ADAS YESHURAN, and to accepting the 100k from the Stockton Jewish Welfare Fund to be placed into the Temple Israel Cemetery Fund to sustain ADAS YESHURAN into the future.
Robert K. Kolber