By renee bravo
August 24, 2009

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, most of us will visit the graves of our departed relatives, and ponder the inscriptions. You may be interested in what happened to me when my husband died. He is buried at Waltham Abbey, which is administered by the United Synagogue. I wanted to put a Shakespearean quotation on his stone, and permission to do this was refused. The United Synagogue issues a printed leaflet giving instructions for everything to do with the stone and the burial, which contains these words, "Only biblical or rabbinic quotations are allowed". So I went to Waltham Abbey with a notebook and a pencil, and made a note of all the inscriptions I could find which were neither biblical nor rabbinic. When I had about twenty-five, I sent them to the office of the United Synagogue, pointing out that "a public body seen to be acting at variance with its own printed instructions can be accused of neither incompetence or corruption". After a great deal of correspondence back and forth, including a personal letter from me to the Chief Rabbi, I was given permission to put the words I wanted on my husband's tombstone. There was one proviso. It could not say "Shakespeare". The rabbis probably felt that if it didn't actually say "Shakespeare", people might think a rabbi wrote it. But, as often happens, God himself has the last word in this story. You see, I have flowers planted on the grave, and at certain times of the year when the flowers grow high, they obscure the inscription.


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