FAIL OF THE DAY: Slate Uses Jewish Cemetery to Illustrate Article About Processing Remains
FAIL OF THE DAY
Why would Slate use a Jewish cemetery to illustrate this article?
If Katrina Spade gets her way, using decomposed corpses as fertilizer will be as common a practice as traditional burial and cremation. Spade is the founder of the Urban Death Project, an organization that plans to compost dead bodies with woodchips inside a three-story concrete core. The New York Times recently called it “a startling next step in the natural burial movement” and in May the project’s Kickstarter raised more than $90,000 to design its first composting facility, which should break ground in Seattle by 2022.
The model is meant to be more ecological than the embalming and nonbiodegradable caskets associated with burial, and than the greenhouse gases caused by cremation. But its perceived rejection of existing death rites might also be its biggest stumbling block.
Spade, who isn’t religious, created the Urban Death Project out of a desire to have an ideology guiding her death ceremony. “Growing up in rural New Hampshire, nature was the closest thing we had to spirituality,” she told me. “We weren’t religious, we’ve never gone to church, and yet we don’t not believe in something bigger than ourselves.” But she doesn’t think that the Urban Death Project has to conflict with other ideologies. “If you’re an enlightened person, you recognize your connection to every other human being. It’s beautiful to be able to celebrate, recognize, and encourage this idea that we’re part of this larger ecosystem. It gives me comfort.”
Whether you agree or disagree with this idea, and people should be allowed to choose this option for themselves and their loved ones, using an illustration of a Jewish cemetery is in the utterly worst of bad taste.
The tombstone shown above is not random, it is the matzevah of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneersohn, a revered woman in Hasidic circles. Five of my granddaughters are named for her.
I don’t know what Slate was thinking (or were they even thinking?) when they used this photo to illustrate their article. Why not just use a bar of soap or Soylent Green to illustrate how nicely human remains can be made into something useful?