Sir Moses Montefiore will not be reburied in Jerusalem

By Simon Rocker, September 20, 2012
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The charity which owns the Ramsgate tomb of British Jewry’s most famous philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, has flatly rejected the idea of reburying him in Jerusalem.

Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, a descendant of the Victorian knight, recently said that many of the family favoured removing the remains of Sir Moses and his wife Judith from the Kent seaside town. Sir Moses, who died in 1885 aged 100, visited Palestine seven times.

But Lucien Gubbay, chairman of the Montefiore Endowment, which runs the mausoleum where the Montefiores lie, said that those opposed to the “bizarre” proposal need not worry.

“It would simply not be possible under the terms of the charity’s governing instrument — or indeed under planning law — to transfer the remains of Sir Moses,” Mr Gubbay insisted.

Mr Sebag Montefiore had argued that it was “a struggle” to maintain the Kent site, as little Jewish life remained in the town.

But Mr Gubbay said: “The Montefiore Endowment commands adequate funds and more than sufficient commitment to preserve the Ramsgate mausoleum and synagogue in their present excellent condition. There is no struggle to maintain interest — far from it. The buildings attract many visitors and several hundred attended events in June and in August this year to hear prayers recited for Sir Moses and his wife Judith.”

The endowment is currently promoting a scheme to establish a Montefiore Study Centre and Museum in Jerusalem, which Mr Gubbay said would be “a far more appropriate and positive way of promoting Sir Moses’s unique ethos in the city he loved so well”.

A proposal to rebury Sir Moses in Israel was raised over 30 years ago, when the Ramsgate Synagogue and mausoleum were under the control of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, London. It was firmly rejected.

Last updated: 7:03am, September 21 2012