Saturday, October 11, 2008

UK: Board of Deputies Audits Jewish Cemeteries

UK: Board of Deputies Audits Jewish Cemeteries

Ruth Ellen Gruber provides a link an article by Leon Symons in the Jewish Chronicle (UK). Ruth wrties: "abandoned, disused and neglected Jewish cemeteries are not just a problem in post-communist countries and elsewhere in Europe where most Jews were murdered in the Shoah. But concern over what to do, how to do it, who should do it, and how whatever is done should be financed is a serious issue in other countries, too."

The British Board is acting rather late in the day to address this problem. Reports of neglected and abandoned cemeteries in the UK have been a regular news feature in the Jewish chronicle and elsewhere for years. There are several good precedents for the management of abandoned cemeteries. The state of Massachusetts (USA) has one of the best programs.

See this story from the London Jewish Chronicle on the situation in England:

From The Jewish Chronicle
Leon Symons
October 3, 2008

The Board of Deputies has begun an audit of all the cemeteries it looks after in Britain to find out who owns them and who is responsible for their upkeep. It has also launched an appeal to raise the funds needed to maintain the cemeteries, hoping to generate around £50,000.

Solicitor David Marcus, the deputy for Muswell Hill, has begun researching Land Registry and other records to try to find out who owns the cemeteries, some of which are centuries old.

"The Board has accepted responsibility for cemeteries around the country, virtually all of which are now out of use," Mr Marcus explained. Some have title deeds in the name of Board honorary officers who have died, while others are in the name of the local community, or with the local authority.

"We want to start a new company and place in it all the cemeteries and any others that become its responsibility, so they are outside the Board. For example, a number are mentioned on the Jewish Heritage website, some of which are at risk, that we know nothing about and are not part of the Board's group. The problem is: Who will look after them?"

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