A bereaved family has criticised the United Synagogue Burial Society over the absence of buggies to ferry elderly mourners to gravesides at Waltham Abbey cemetery on Sunday.
Despite having checked with burial society staff that transport for the elderly would be available at her mother-in-law’s stone-setting, retired teacher Ruth Burnett was “devastated when the officiant told the people in the ohel that the inscription would be read out in the hall since they could not provide transport.
“Wheelchairs were available but it was pouring with rain and the terrain was quite rough and dangerous.
“Listening to my husband Clive’s solitary and desolate voice saying kaddish for his mum was even more heart-wrenching than I could have imagined.”
Fellow mourner Anne Yeshin said it was not the first time she had encountered a transport problem at Waltham Abbey.
“In August I attended the stone-setting of my uncle’s late wife. Most of the mourners were elderly and several used walking sticks. Despite this no arrangements had been made to ensure that they could approach the grave.”
On that occasion, the reason given for the absence of transport was that staff had been seconded to Bushey cemetery as it was “busier”.
US Burial Society head Melvyn Hartog said Sunday’s transport problem “was one of those things. We never knowingly let people down. We are here to help people.”
One of the cemetery’s two buggies had a puncture, while the other — delivered barely a week earlier — was making a “loud thumping noise when driven”, requiring an engineer’s services.