Shalom Lamm (Education and Career)
Shalom Lamm is an American real estate developer. He is the son of past chancellor of Yeshiva University Norman Lamm, and currently lives in West Hempstead, New York. Following in his father’s footsteps, he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Yeshiva University, where he served as chairman of the school’s Academic Senate. He then went on to earn his master’s degree in American military history from the American Military University in 2001. He is currently the CEO of the non-profit organization Operation Benjamin, a company dedicated to correcting the issue of hundreds of American-Jewish soldiers who fought during WWII who were mistakenly buried under Latin Crosses.
The project began and is named for Private Benjamin Garadetsky, a Jewish soldier who was buried under a Latin Cross at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France. Since his case, the efforts of the Operation Benjamin team have had great success in correcting burial grounds.
The mission of Operation Benjamin rests on three pillars, faith, family and historical accuracy. Their work is very diligent, and it does not cost the families of these fallen heroes any money to correct the mistakes that have been made. The organization views the responsibility as “an honor to help set the record straight.” Shalom Lamm is very proud of the services his organization provides.
The work to correct the representation of a fallen soldier’s faith and heritage relies on a four step process. First, they identify a service member who was of the Jewish heritage and was buried under a non-Jewish grave marker. They find these individuals using extensive documentary evidence. Secondly, they prepare a dossier to present to the federal government as well as a cover letter signed by the family to request the change of the grave marker. Once the request is granted, the organization works with the government and the families to set up a date and time for the burial marker change. Lastly, once a date is scheduled, the families of the deceased soldiers participate in a memorable Jewish graveside marker change ceremony.
Burial in a Jewish Cemetery
When a member of the Jewish faith has passed away, the burial process may seem different to anyone who is not a part of their religious beliefs. The most important elements of a proper Jewish burial is the Tahara. This is the preparation of the body by the Chevra Kaddisha for its final rest, until the Resurrection of the Dead in the era of Moshiach. The Tahara includes cleansing, washing, and dressing the body. People recite prayers to help lift the soul into the Heavens.
Jewish tradition requires that the body be buried in a plain and modest casket. No pillows or anything of the sort, the interior of the casket should be left plain. It must be made with material that will disintegrate into the ground to allow the body to return to Earth. A Jewish person is also not buried in their usual clothing or with jewelry. They are instead dressed in white traditional shrouds as well as a Tallit, also known as a prayer shawl. The dressing of the deceased is so important, the Jewish law insists that the funeral should be postponed until proper Tachrichim can be used.
It is a desire that a person of the Jewish community be buried back in the Land of Israel. If a burial is set to take place anywhere else, the Chevra Kaddisha will place Earth from the Land of Israel inside the casket. Although different from other religions, a proper Jewish burial is sacred to families such as Shalom Lamm’s and they want to carry on the tradition.