So, this afternoon we had our third pointless meeting at the cemetery to discuss Natan’s gravestone. The first meeting we gave them a paper with his name and birth and death date on it, in English and Hebrew. The second meeting we got that paper back, with a drawing from the gravestone company. As written, it said nothing really, but phonetically, it read, “Belly, son, and will rise a year of pasture.” I nearly dissolved into giggles during a discussion of my son’s headstone. I couldn’t believe it. I spent the next twenty minutes rewriting the sheet to correspond with numbers assigned to Hebrew letters. Sure enough when we went back today, we had a brand new drawing, which said, “Belly, son, and will rise a year of pasture.” The owner, I’ll call her “Vidalia,” was apologetic, but kept repeating that she shouldn’t even have had us come back yet, since she hadn’t had the rabbi look at the sheet.
Of course, our rabbi is currently in Israel. I know Hebrew more than well enough to write my son’s name and birth date, so I told her I could check it. But then she said the rabbi of each congregation in town has to have the final word for their particular burial grounds to make sure it matches “their interpretation of Hebrew.” Huh? “Natan son of Joshua and Sara” is a pretty straightforward, everyday Hebrew phrase. And I certainly know how to spell our names! It’s an alphabet, Vidalia, and there’s really nothing to interpret. Of course, as she pointed out, she’s been in the cemetery business for twenty-one years, so she knows best. I, of course, only spent two years plus in Israel and pray regularly in Hebrew. But it is my first time burying a son. How would I know? She was rather insulting, actually, but what are we going to do? Pick up Natan and move?
That said, I realize it’s a good idea to have the rabbis check every gravestone for mistakes. I’m just annoyed that after three meetings, two drawings, and six weeks, Vidalia concludes it’s not our call anyway. Haggling over a headstone is not my idea of therapy.