Cemetery FAQs

Cemetery Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

April 2019

Where is the Or Shalom Cemetery?

The Or Shalom Cemetery (also known as the Or Shalom Area) is part of Mountain View Cemetery (MVC) in Vancouver.  The Or Shalom Area is on the southwest corner of the intersection of Fraser Street and 33rdAvenue, north of the Old Jewish Section, which is managed by Congregation Schara Tzedeck.

Does Or Shalom own the cemetery?

No, Or Shalom does not own the cemetery.  It is owned and operated by the City of Vancouver. Or Shalom’s agreement with the City designates an area for Or Shalom members to purchase rights of interment.

What is a right of interment?

A right of interment allows the purchaser the right to be buried in a lot (grave site) in MVC.

Who can purchase a right of interment?

Due to the limited size of our area, the Or Shalom Board of Directors has established eligibility requirements.  To purchase a right of interment, you must have been a member of Or Shalom for a total of five years and be a current member in good standing, defined as having paid dues by June 30 of the previous fiscal year.

Do these eligibility requirements apply to other family members?

No.  Only one family member must be an eligible member of Or Shalom.

How do I purchase a right of interment?

MVC requires certification of eligibility from Or Shalom before the sale of any lot in our area. To request a certificate of eligibility, contact the Or Shalom office: 604-872-1614 or email office@orshalom.ca.  After eligibility is confirmed, a certificate will be sent to MVC.  You can then go to the cemetery office at 5455 Fraser St. from 9-3 weekdays to complete the purchase.  It’s best to make an appointment with MVC: 604-325-2646.

How many lots does the Or Shalom area contain?

Our agreement provides space for only 64burial lots.  However, each lot may be shared by two people, essentially cutting the cost in half.  Two people sharing a lot need not be related.

How much does a right of interment cost?

The City sets fees for purchase of an interment right, not including preparation, casket, marker or interment (burial). For current fees, see City of Vancouver Mountain View Cemetery Schedule of Fees.  Or Shalom doesn’t own, maintain or sell rights of interment.

What does the purchase price include?

The purchase gives an individual a right of interment (burial).  The fee also covers perpetual maintenance of the area by MVC staff.

Do I have to pay the whole cost at once?

No.  You may enter a payment plan agreement with MVC. You must provide a minimum of 1/4 of the total cost as a down payment and can then pay the rest over up to 24 months without interest.  You can pay by credit card.  The full amount must be paid before MVC will allow interment.

Can I purchase one-half of a lot?

At this time the City does not allow purchase of half-lots.  You can, however, purchase a lot together with another person.  In the future, it may be possible to purchase a half-lot, pending a proposed change in the City by-laws.

What if I don’t have someone with whom to share a lot?

You may contact the Or Shalom Office and leave your name with our Office Administrator.  The office will keep a list of those who are interested in a shared lot.  However, these individuals must make the necessary agreement between themselves.

Do I have a choice of lots?

Yes, you may choose an available location within the all-Jewish or interfaith sections.

Can I transfer my right of interment to someone else?

You can transfer your right of interment to a family member during your lifetime or through your will.  MVC does not allow private sales of interment rights.  If two people share ownership of the interment right, both of them must agree to the transfer.

Do the eligibility requirements apply to two unrelated purchasers sharing a lot?

Yes.  Both must have been members for five years and be eligible members of Or Shalom at the time of purchase.

What happens if one person buys a right of interment for individual use and later decides to share the lot with someone else? Does that individual also need to be an eligible member of Or Shalom?

Yes, unless the person is the spouse or a child of the purchaser.

What if I was an Or Shalom member for a total of five years in the past but let my membership lapse and am not currently a member? Can I still purchase a right of interment at this time?

No.  You must also be a current member in good standing. If you rejoin Or Shalom, you would be eligible to purchase a right of interment after June 30thof the next year.

Am I expected to maintain my Or Shalom membership after I purchase a right of interment?

It is Or Shalom’s intent that you will remain an engaged member of the Or Shalom community.

Does the Or Shalom Cemetery have an interfaith section?

Yes, our cemetery includes both all-Jewish and interfaith sections.  Separation of these sections will respect Jewish tradition. You must indicate your choice when requesting certification of eligibility.

I want to be cremated. Can my cremated remains be buried in the Or Shalom Cemetery?

Yes, however cremation is a deviation from Jewish tradition.  In Jewish law and tradition, the body is buried in the ground. 

Despite an individual’s choice to deviate from Jewish practice, Or Shalom has chosen not to let go of our respect for the dignity of their soul.  Even as a member of our community makes a personal choice to step away from Jewish practice, we continue to embrace them in death, as we did in life.  This is not an advocacy of cremation.  Rather, it is advocacy for dignity in death and maintaining Or Shalom as a community that stretches across the boundary of death.

For further information, contact the Or Shalom Rabbi.

Who will prepare the body for burial?

Jewish as well as non-Jewish individuals will normally be prepared for burial by the Schara Tzedeck Chevra Kadisha, which provides this service for most other synagogues in the Vancouver area.  The Chevra Kadisha sets preparation fees.  There will be slight variations in preparation for Jews and non-Jews.  In special circumstances, Or Shalom’s Rabbi and Cemetery Committee may waive that requirement.  The Chevra Kadisha will not prepare individuals who are to be cremated.

Is there an option for green burial?

Yes, those who prefer to be buried with no marker could use a small section of the Or Shalom area; only plants or grasses will cover the area. Jewish burial by definition is green, with embalming generally not allowed. All individuals will be buried in a biodegradable container– such as a simple pine or cardboard casket, reed basket or shroud– that conforms to MVC guidelines and Jewish burial customs. MVC does not require concrete liners.

Where could a funeral service be held?

A service could be held at Or Shalom, the Schara Tzedeck chapel in New Westminster, the Celebration Hall at MVC, in a private home, or at the graveside.

Who may officiate at the funeral?

Funerals will be officiated by the Or Shalom Rabbi, the Rabbi’s designate, or a rabbi of the deceased’s family’s choosing. Non-Jewish clergy may attend but may not officiate.

Can I choose a headstone/marker?

No. We plan to have uniform markers with an attractive design unique to Or Shalom. We are working with MVC on a style that minimizes cost and allows for easy maintenance by cemetery staff.

I want to be buried in the Or Shalom Cemetery but can’t afford it.

We hope to create a fund to which people can contribute in memory or in honour of loved ones. The money collected will be used to offset the cost of purchase of interment rights in appropriate circumstances. Together with the Rabbi, the Cemetery Committee will make that determination when necessary.