Fed denies burial complaint

The Federation of Synagogues has denied accusations that its burial society tried to "take advantage" of the family of an Ilford Federation member who died on Shabbat.

Malcolm Bennett from Clayhall complained after allegedly being asked for more than £2,000 to bury his father, Alfred, who died, aged 82, at Springfield Care Home in Ilford on April 2.

Mr Bennett waited until after Shabbat to contact the burial society's emergency number, but no one answered.

"My father wasn't ultra religious but he wanted to be buried within 24 hours - it was one of the last things he said to me."

He claimed that when he did finally speak to the society, he was told it would cost £1,400 to have the plot he had requested, a further £500 to reserve the plot next to it for his mother and £250 for an "out of hours" funeral. "We wanted a certain plot because that's where his parents and other family members were buried," Mr Bennett explained.

He said the Federation eventually apologised for the "inconvenience" and agreed to an overall charge of £1,000.

Mr Bennett was further upset at being told that staff at Rainham cemetery were too busy to put his father's name on the board detailing funerals taking place that day.

"Why have my parents paid for 60 years to a shul and burial society? I feel they have been taken advantage of. I didn't need all of this when my father had just died."

Federation chief executive Eli Kienwald said: "I cannot understand Mr Bennett's statement that the Federation took advantage of his parents. The Federation Burial Society's aim is to provide a caring and efficient service to its members.

"Mr Bennett phoned on motzei Shabbos [Saturday night] to inform us that his father had passed away.

"His call was not answered immediately but our burial society administrator returned the call that same evening and then again on Sunday morning when arrangements were made for the funeral." The burial society administrator had apologised for the missed call.

"The Federation of Synagogues does not charge members of its burial society for a standard funeral and burial," Dr Kienwald added. "However, in common with other burial societies, there are certain additional services which may attract an extra charge, for example out-of-hours funerals, plot reservations and choice of a premium plot."

    Last updated: 1:54pm, April 14 2011