On Sept. 27, 2011 a group she formed, that came to be known in the media as The Houdini Commandos secretly replaced the statuary bust at Houdini’s grave site, which had been missing due to vandalism for 36 years. In 2013, she petitioned The Society of American Magicians, magic’s most prestigious and wealthiest organization, thanks to Houdini, to help take over the care of the grave site located in Ridgewood, at the Machpelah Cemetery.
Along with fellow magician Dick Brookz (aka John Bravo), she is also a founder of the Houdini Museum, which is located in Scranton, Pa. To commemorate Houdini’s death on Oct. 31, 1926, a “broken wand” celebration was held by the museum at the cemetry in Queens Oct. 31. To officiate they had George Schindler, who is the Dean of the Society of American Magicians and Rabbi Noach Valley.
A broken wand ceremony is performed at the funeral of a magician. In the ceremony, a wand—either the wand which the magician used or a ceremonial one—is broken, indicating that with the magician’s death, his wand has lost its magic. Houdini’s own funeral in 1926 marked the first time such a ceremony was performed, and a ceremony to mark his birthday has become a yearly occurrence.
“This is the ritual of the broken wand, for Harry Houdini, who was born Ehrich Weiss on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary and died Oct. 31, 1926 on Halloween Day.” Schindler said at the ceremony.
“When Houdini was initiated into the Society of American Magicians he was presented with a special wand, the ancient emblem of mystery and power. When a magician dies the wand has no further meaning; no authority. It becomes just a piece of wood.” Rabbi Valley read the classical memorial prayer in Hebrew and translated it into English.
While the broken wand ceremony was not open to the public, Houdini’s grave is. However, if you want to get an up-close at the final resting place of the greatest escape artist of all time, you’ll need to call the cemetery ahead of time at (718) 366-5959. The cemetery is at 82-30 Cypress Hills St.
The grave site is in good shape, but the Houdini Museum has offered to pay for two markers that are missing on the memorial.
Posted 12:00 am, November 11, 2016