Memorandum by the Board of Deputies of
British Jews (CEM 27)
1. The Board of Deputies of British Jews
("The Board") wishes to offer a submission to the Environment
Sub-committee which is undertaking an enquiry into Cemeteries
2. The Board has for very many years had
an interest in looking after certain Jewish cemeteries in locations
around the United Kingdom where there is no longer a viable Jewish
Community. In a number of such cases The Board has a Trusteeship
responsibility, and such status has in some cases existed for
up to 100 years.
3. The locations of responsibility apply
in some cases to Jewish sections of Municipal Cemeteries, but
in others to completely independent locations, which originally
were purchased by or gifted to local Jewish Synagogues or to Jewish
4. The Board is also asked to offer advice
and guidance to small Jewish Communities where the current membership
is minimal, and ageing. In such cases the present responsible
officers are concerned as to what will happen when they are no
longer able to act, and the help of The Board is required to act
to prevent major problems arising later.
5. There is no doubt that in many locations
a Jewish Cemetery has considerable historical and cultural significance,
especially when the Community, albeit small, had an important
influence on the Town. It has been put to us that records which
are accessible from tombstones, can be highly regarded by Local
Authorities, both for the benefit of social historians, and as
an adjunct to modern tourism.
6. Inevitably with the passage of time the
condition of the locations for which The Board is responsible
differs greatly, some being in excellent condition, but others
in great need of repair as well as regular maintenance. We find
that most of the locations within Municipal Cemeteries are well
maintained, in some cases this being done without charge. Of the
independent locations we attempt to seek help from Local Authorities,
inevitably in some cases this is not forthcoming.
7. The Board seeks to carry out its responsibility
with due care, seeking to make use of individual Jewish or non-Jewish
persons resident locally. Those locations which are in need of
remedial work eg on surrounding walls, cause us great concern,
as it is not easy to raise funds and we do not have adequate resources
to do all that is really needed. We keep in contact with potential
funding bodies, but funding from English Heritage/Lottery distribution
etc is very complicated.
8. The Board will be happy to offer further
information on its responsibility in this regard if required by
the Select Committee.
Heritage Task Group