Scottish Jews oppose double-decker burials

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has said it "strongly objects" to proposals to allow the re-use of graves.

The Scottish Government is expected to back the deepening of burial sites, effectively giving the go-ahead to "double-deck" graves.

It is due to announce its plans next month following a lengthy consultation into solving the increasing difficulty of securing burial space.

In its response to the government's consultation, SCoJeC said: "We have serious concerns with the re-use of graves, particularly the proposals that local authorities should be able to designate plots for re-use without explicit permission."

It is not yet known how the plans would be applied to Jewish cemeteries, which are owned by community burial boards.

The proposals would back a period of 75 years between a burial and
re-use.

The nearest living relative of the person who died three-quarters of a century earlier would have the opportunity to veto the re-use of the grave.

A method known as "dig and deepen" would be used to remove remains from a grave before it is made deeper.

The remains would then be reinterred in a new container after extra space is created for an additional coffin. Gravestones would be retained at their original site.

SCoJeC said: "The human body, including all body parts and tissue, is sacrosanct, and should always be treated with dignity. Once death has occurred, there should be as little interference with the body as possible.

"We are particularly concerned that arrangements that may be put in place for the effective confiscation of unused [plots] might result in non-Jews being buried in areas set aside for Jewish burial. This would be extremely distressing to the community."

The move is supported by the Protestant Church of Scotland, but the Catholic Church has opposed the plans.

The Free Church of Scotland
said "double-decking" would be a "desecration".

The Muslim Council of Scotland said re-using graves might be permissible for relatives, but not strangers.

    Last updated: 1:57pm, July 29 2010