In Judaism, paying respects to deceased family members and friends is paramount. Observing the Yahrzeit is one way that Jewish people do this. Holding a proper Jewish monument unveiling ceremony is another way that Jewish people pay respects to their families. As Jewish monuments weather over time, they can become quite worn. In this blog post, we’ll explain how headstones become dirty, and the steps that you can take to restore them to their original beauty.
How do Headstones Become Dirty?
As a natural consequence of time and the conditions surrounding them, Jewish monuments tend to lose their initial sheen. Unfortunately, this is not preventable.
It’s hard to imagine that a worn-down Jewish monument could ever match its former beauty. But, with the proper cleaning and restoration strategies, we can make your monument as beautiful as it was when you first bought it.
1. Grass Accumulation
Most Jewish cemeteries have staff on-hand to maintain the grounds, and cutting the grass is key among these responsibilities. It’s common for recently cut grass to end up on the headstone, and gradually fall to the bottom. This grass then dirties the base of the headstone.
Theoretically, it makes sense that you should use the same substance to clean the Jewish monument as you would to clean your granite countertop. In practice, though, this is far from the truth.
Granite cleaner will likely scratch the monument. The same is true for wire and metal brushes.
Instead, the best approach is to use more delicate and basic materials. Spraying the Jewish gravestone with water and using a soft scrub brush is often the best tactic. This technique will remove grime from the headstone, without altering the text, pictures or symbols on the headstone. Mastering this technique, though, can be difficult. Despite its simplicity, this task is best handled by a professional, who will minimize the potential for damage.
Often found in cemeteries, lichen can prove quite damaging for headstones. Growing wider each year, lichen can be green, gray, yellow, or orange. It can be on the base of the Jewish monument, or over the inscripted area. Eventually, this invasive species can affect the inscription.
It’s difficult to fully remove lichen. Even if you can remove all traces of the invasive species from the Jewish monument itself, it will often resurface later on. Engaging in more strategic methods of lichen removal– eliminating it at its source– is the only way to prevent regrowth.
3. Sinking Jewish Monument
Weak soil could lead the headstone to sink into the ground over time. In doing so, it could obscure the name of the individual, or the carefully selected Jewish epitaph. This will cause the monument to look quite worn down.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to stop a headstone from sinking, and prevent future sinking. A stone base will prevent the monument from sinking further into the ground. This will also improve the aesthetic appeal of the monument. This physical adjustment may also limit the potential for lichen to spread.
4. Fading Lettering/ Cracked Headstone
Upon purchasing a Jewish monument, the lettering will be easily readable. After years in the open air, though, this lettering has the potential to fade quite a bit. The inability to read the name of the individual can limit the cathartic effect of visiting a deceased loved one.
By design, cemeteries are open areas. Rain, snow, and other precipitation will reach headstones. This precipitation could cause a small or large crack to develop over time. This will detract from the nostalgic impact that the headstone should have.
Even after a thorough cleaning, Jewish monument lettering may still be faded, and possibly, unreadable. A talented headstone cleaner can easily use engraving tools to refurbish the lettering.
Alternatively, many families choose to add new lettering, even while the headstone is in the ground. This is a common choice for families who wanted to add a new row of lettering, but lacked the finances to do so at the time.
Fixing the lettering on the monument will ensure that people will be able to read these important details.
Professional Monument Cleaning by Fox Memorials
At Fox Memorials, we strive to enable our family of customers to properly pay their respects to family members. Hiring professional cleaners to perform routine maintenance is the most efficient way to keep these headstones clean. Contact the team at Fox Memorials to ensure that your loved one’s headstone is taken care of.