Threatened synagogue appeals for relief

The life president of a Manchester synagogue which faces closure after owing £10,000 to a burial board has said that the only way it will survive is for the board to reduce its charges.

Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton Hebrew Congregation in north Manchester is supposed to pay one-third of the £30,000 annual running costs of the Rainsough Joint Hebrew Burial Board, which is responsible for the maintenance of Rainsough Cemetery in Prestwich.

But the 170-member congregation has been unable to maintain payments owing to its declining membership.

Ephraim Jaffe, its life president, said that the payments have been a "financial strain" on his community.

In 1969, Higher Crumpsall agreed to pay just over a third of the cemetery's upkeep, despite owning only one-sixth of the site.

Dr Jaffe said that "as membership decreased, we asked the board to review the situation. We have had to pay so much. They should reduce the contribution to the proportion of land we own, which is one-sixth. Then we will be able to continue."

The synagogue's accounts show that all the money raised in membership fees is spent mostly on wages, repairs and bills.

But Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, administrator of the Manchester Kashrut Authority, which is a partner in the burial board, was unsympathetic to the request for a cut in contributions.

He said: "That is a total denial of the facts on the ground and the history of this cemetery. It was originally divided into three portions in an agreement irrespective of the division of the land. I find it invidious that because the shul has financial difficulties they should create fiction... To come up with this now doesn't wash with me."

    Last updated: 1:39pm, July 8 2010