Jewish Joint Burial Society - JJBS
Foundation Stone for the Woodland Ohel
On Sunday 8th February 2015 Jerome Karey the President of the JJBS unveiled
a Foundation Stone for the Woodland Ohel.
The service was conducted by Rabbi Larry Becker and a there was a substantial
attendance of Governors of the JJBS and synagogue members.
At the same time a Roan Tree was planted for Tu B'Shevat
The JJBS Opens The First Jewish Woodland Burial Site in UK
The Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS), which provides funeral services for 35 Reform, Masorti and Liberal congregations, has acquired a freehold parcel of land for the purposes of woodland and other burials. This is the first time woodland burials have been possible in a Jewish cemetery in the UK and it is believed to be the first faith woodland cemetery in the country.
Members can now choose to be buried in an ecologically friendly way in a natural environment surrounded by newly planted trees. The burial can include a coffin made from bamboo or cardboard which decomposes naturally and instead of a large headstone there will be a small memorial plaque.
The new land is adjacent to the existing JJBS cemetery at Bulls Cross Ride, Cheshunt. With an independent entrance and fenced roadway on the southern boundary of the existing cemetery, the woodland cemetery will be segregated and screened by landscaping from the rest of the property.
In addition to woodland burials, there will is an area dedicated to Mixed Lawn burials for members and their non Jewish partners. Burials in this section will be in double depth graves. At Sukkat Shalom non Jewish partners of Jewish members are now able to Join the synagogue as Associates with burial rights in the Mixed Lawn section of the Woodland Cemetery.
If you are interested in becoming such an Associate member please contact Frank Godson on 07545 349999 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org he will arrange a meeting in order to discuss it.
The JJBS is also constructing a columbarium in a separate landscaped area where cremated remains may be interred, a facility not possible in the existing cemetery. A new ohel is also under construction.
JJBS has opened this new cemetery so that it may have a greater freedom in the type of funeral offered to their members and their dependants. It will have space for over 10,000 burials in addition to the 14,000 spaces JJBS has in the existing cemetery at Cheshunt. Liberal Judaism has also acquired 1,000 spaces adjacent to the new woodland cemetery and JJBS and Liberal Judaism will work together in developing the facilities.
Rabbi Paul Freedman, the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK representative on JJBS said: "The thrust of Jewish burial practice is to speed the return of the body to the ground. A biodegadable coffin is very much in keeping with the Jewish practice of requiring biodegradable materials and the emphasis on the coffin being modest. Moreover, woodland burials exemplify the general mitzvah of Bal Tashchit our traditional Jewish responsibility for environmental care. Although headstones have been customary, the real requirement is simply to be able to identify the grave site. As Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel taught: tombstones are not erected for the righteous, as their words are their memorials."
A separate part of the new cemetery which is dedicated for double depth burials for non-Jewish partners follows the example of the pre-war Berlin Jewish community which had a separate section on the edge of its Jewish cemetery where the burial of a non-Jewish partner was permitted. Recognising the increasing number of Jews with non-Jewish partners and acknowledging the pain caused by the possibility of separation in burial, in 2002 the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK proposed a separate section of the cemetery for such burials. This separate section recognises the need to keep faith with those who have been buried in the past, or who wish to be buried in the future, on the assumption that they will lie together with other Jews in an exclusively Jewish cemetery.