By Alex Krutchik
The Garden of Remembrance Memorial Park in Clarksburg has broken ground on a new memorial center and chapel.
Construction of the 6,000-square-foot chapel will cost about $3 million and will take about nine months to complete, according to Glenn Easton, executive director of the Garden of Remembrance
Easton said the nonprofit memorial park has been trying to build a memorial chapel on the grounds for 20 years. There is an outdoor gazebo in which services are held but, Easton said, this is limited by weather.
Funeral practices in the Washington area are unusual, he said. In many Jewish communities, there is a central Jewish funeral home with a chapel where most people have their funerals. In Washington, there is a hybrid in which many funerals are held at synagogues. For those who are unaffiliated, funerals can be held graveside, he said.
“The desire of the Garden of Remembrance, modeling after some other similar communities, was to be able to provide a chapel on the premises so a family could have a dignified service inside a beautiful chapel,” Easton said. “And then they could either walk or drive over to the grave site for the interment.”
Hank Levine, president of the Garden of Remembrance, said the nonprofit has 30 partner congregations. He said the new chapel will allow the park to provide all of the facilities necessary for a Jewish burial.
“We will now be able to hold services indoors and have the burial immediately thereafter,” Levine said. “And it will be right at the same location. That’s important to the community, and important to us and our ability to fulfill the mission.”
Several families have provided lead gifts, including the Marilyn & Raymond Greenberg Memorial Center, the Tina & Albert H. Small Jr. Memorial Chapel, the Wasserman-Gill Family Wing and the Dreyfuss Memorial Hall. Levin/Brown & Associates of Baltimore is the architect of the new center and chapel and Eichberg Construction in Rockville has been engaged for the project.