Manchester Jewry is facing a burial crisis after it was revealed that local cemeteries have less than 10,000 spaces vacant, insufficient to bury the synagogue members currently signed up to burial boards. Some burial plots are being sold twice and there is not the finance to expand supply.
A public meeting attended by 80 people on Sunday to launch the North Manchester Jewish Cemeteries Trust was the start of a dialogue towards the integration of burial boards administering 10 communal burial grounds.
The trust says its remit is for maintenance only, for which £100,000 a year is needed.
It proposes to raise this by synagogues adding a £10-£15 annual levy to members’ fees. The fund would also generate income towards the purchase of additional burial land.
NMJCT trustee Stephen Niman asked: “How can we address the major issues if there are so many different burial boards and we haven’t even got enough burial places?” He named Prestwich’s Holy Law and Crumpsall’s Meade Hill synagogues as two major burial boards which to date have not agreed to join the coalition.
From London, United Synagogue head of burial Melvyn Hartog explained the £4 million annual revenue system to maintain US cemeteries, where there is capacity for 100 years.
“You’ve got some beautiful cemeteries here in Manchester. But you have two choices, either to stay exactly as you are or have the determination to say ‘enough is enough, now we have to do it properly’.”