Shoah tribute leads £1m plan for cemeteries

By Jonathan Kalmus, March 11, 2013

A permanent Holocaust memorial at one of Manchester’s largest Jewish cemeteries is among a raft of improvements planned for dilapidated burial grounds.

The 20 foot-wide stone Star of David will be a major feature on an embankment at Rainsough cemetery in Prestwich, where a number of survivors are buried. Funded by private donors, the memorial will be completed by June as part of a £1 million renovation.

A major programme to deal with overgrowth has begun at the Crumpsall cemetery, whose management says boundary walls are in danger of collapse.

The work is being managed by the North Manchester Jewish Cemeteries Trust, which is holding a public meeting to garner support for a central maintenance framework for 10 local Jewish cemeteries. The trust’s Brian White claims that the cemeteries’ poor state of repair is partly attributable to some synagogues’ burial contributions having been diverted.

“Rather than money being used for burials or cemeteries, it has just helped to keep some shuls open — and that is wrong. There is a system that works well in London because burial finances are completely separate from synagogues, which is why the meeting will hear from the United Synagogue. Our burial system in Manchester is 100-years-old and urgently needs updating.”

Harry Johnston — whose firm is undertaking the maintenance for the cemetery trust — pointed out: “There are currently 5-6,000 grave spaces but the Jewish community is nearly 30,000 strong. No one is planning at this time for those future burials. All the available plots are already sold so there is a big issue here. We have to keep the pressure up to change the system.”

He also said plaques will be placed in the prayer house at Rainsough to remember Jewish service personnel.

Last updated: 10:45am, March 11 2013