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UOS/Congregations

Cemetery in sad state & no funds for repair

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STAFF REPORTER

Pictured: The sad state of disrepair at the Roodepoort Jewish cemetery, is clearly visible in this photograph.

Currently, the Country Communities Department of the SAJBD is responsible for the maintenance of over 220 cemeteries in the smaller towns and villages around the country. What makes it possible to carry out this role, however, is the availability of funds from various trusts set up by the former Jewish congregations of the areas concerned.

In the case of Roodepoort, no provision was made for the maintenance of the cemetery while there was still a functioning Jewish community in the town and no funds remain from the sale of the community’s assets after the closure of the shul. 

Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, spiritual leader to the South African Country Communities, said his department was willing to take over the responsibility for maintaining the cemeteries of other congregations in the event of their closing down. This, however, was predicated on the trustees of those congregations entering into an agreement with the SAJBD to ensure that adequate resources were available for that purpose.

This would be done, as in the case of other country cemeteries, through the establishment of a trust, set up through the sale of the community’s property and other assets. It followed that the larger the cemetery, the more funds are needed to be made available.

In the case of Roodepoort, he had met with the trustees before the congregation closed and strongly advised that they make provision for their cemetery’s future maintenance. They had taken a conscious decision not to do so, and unfortunately, there was now nothing that his department could do about the situation, he said. 

Rabbi Silberhaft urged all communities outside the Greater Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban areas that had not yet made provision for the upkeep of their cemeteries, to do so as soon as possible, while they were still active and viable.

The upkeep of the final resting places of community members who had passed on, was a sacred responsibility, he stressed, and that in turn meant that the trustees of the congregations concerned needed to act responsibly when determining what to do with their community’s remaining assets.

Rabbi Silberhaft said that should they wish the SAJBD to take on that responsibility, they should contact him at thetravellingrabbi@gmail.com to arrange for the necessary legal document to be drawn up in anticipation of the community closing. Alternatively, they could contact SAJBD Country Communities Chairman Marlene Bethlehem on bhjbeth@gmail.com.  

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. David B

    Jun 1, 2017 at 6:41 am

    ‘A really sad state of affairs — although , with no alternative given to this unfortunate choice I would rather subsidise the living via the Chevra , than the dead. Not ideal by any means , but pragmatic in the unfortunate circumstances’

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