Blog  The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

By Noah Lipsitz, Bus 8 Participant

This cemetery was very different than any other I’ve seen in my life.

I noticed that the entire cemetery was in the woods with trees surrounding the grave stones and life all around. The cemeteries I’ve seen usually consist of an open field with perfectly cut green grass and nowhere near as much natural life surrounding it. This special sight made the visit very special for me. 

I also noticed that all the stones were different shapes, sizes and textures. Like people, not one stone was exactly the same as another. To me this made it so much more meaningful, it felt like it almost honored the humanity of the people who were buried there.

What I really took from the cemetery is this: we bury people to show respect for that person’s life. It’s not to simply show respect to the person’s body, but instead to remember and make meaning out of that person’s soul, who they really were. In the end, aren’t we just throwing away the body and giving it back to the earth? 

The experience made me think more about how material things aren’t what make people truly happy. The human body is like a prop, it allows who we are on the inside to come out into the world. I don’t mean to say that things and props don’t matter at all, because they allow us to do many things. However, it is false to think that those things are what make a person discover true happiness. It is experiences and what lies beneath the surface that truly make an impact on a person. Because when we are old and about to leave this world, we won’t be able to take anything with us. Almost all of those things will be forgotten anyway. It will be the memories of loved ones and our life experiences that we will truly cherish.

We can use material things to emphasize what makes us who we are, as long as we are careful not to let them take control of what really matters. Today I fully understood that we don’t need to prioritize things; you will never need any tangible thing in life to be happy. What I’m trying to say is you have to live a life full of experience, doing things that you love with people you love even more. Don’t let meaningless props decide who you are, but rather allow them to further help you come alive.

This is what came to me while walking through a Jewish cemetery with my friends, just taking in the things around me and allowing them to change how I think about life, death, and how to bring meaning to both.