Adath burial society refuses to reveal grave of premature baby

By Jennifer Lipman, October 26, 2012

A mother whose premature baby died at three days old has called on the strictly Orthodox Adath Burial Society to reveal where he is buried.

Last week was the sixth anniversary of his death and the woman, an Adath member in north London, hoped that she would finally be able to mark the date by visiting her son's grave.

But despite repeated appeals, she says nobody at the Adath Burial Society will help, although they acknowledge they do have a record. Instead, she says, an official told her "say some tehillim [prayers], light a candle and forget about it".

Last year, it emerged that many burial boards had wrongly told the parents of stillborn or miscarried children that the babies had been buried in the graves of unnamed mothers, whose location would not be identified.

But, after a JC campaign, attitudes shifted, and now the United Synagogue clearly identifies graves and offers guidance to rabbis and parents.

The Adath mother, who asked not to be named because her other children did not know what happened to their brother, knows only that the burial society collected the baby from the hospital and that he was named so he could be circumcised before burial.

She had an emergency caesarian at 26 weeks, and was very ill. "I was really out of it," she said. "I didn't have the presence of mind to ask questions."

Before Rosh Hashanah this year, she found an envelope containing photographs of her son. "I finally had the guts to open it," she said. "I needed to find out where he was buried. But they were insistent that they could not tell me.

"I said that the United Synagogue was allowing people to know, and they said, 'it's because the JC made a big fuss'.

"If he's buried in an unmarked grave, I can't imagine you can just walk over it - there must be something to show what is there. I don't know what their justification is. Do they think I'm going to build a shrine?"

Coral Miller, US Chesed fieldworker and an accredited Relate counsellor, said it was fundamental that the woman was able to find out what had happened to her baby.

"I don't think anybody unless they have been through it can fully understand what she's been through," she said. "She carried that child, she felt it inside her, she felt it kick.

"We are encouraged to go to visit parents that we've lost, there is somewhere to go. This child is obviously in her heart but you still need somewhere to go. It brings acceptance to the loss. She needs to be able to say goodbye."

The Adath Burial Society refused to comment on the matter.

Last updated: 11:14am, October 26 2012