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The Communal Burial Board

The burial of the poor was one of the self-imposed duties of the Manchester Shechita Board from its very inception. Only four days after the very first meeting of the Board in January 1892, it met again and resolved to seek tenders from the Synagogues to carry out the burial of the poor. In it first year, the Board paid some £125 out of its income to the Old Hebrew Congregation who undertook to provide free burial to the poor in return for this grant. This figure fluctuated over three decades peaking at £573 in 1923.

For some years prior to this the Board had been concerned that the cost of paying others to use their graves for this burial could soon become prohibitive. The Board therefore sought to purchase its own burial area so as to be self sufficient. This came to fruition in 1925 with the opening of the Communal Burial Ground, a section of Rainsough Cemetery in Prestwich. The Board provided the sum of £599 towards the cost of commissioning the cemetery.

The Communal Burial Board, was thus not liable for having to purchase graves but nevertheless had a responsibility together with its partners the North Manchester Synagogue (later the Central and North Manchester) and the Higher Broughton (later the Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton) to maintain the cemetery. This is a responsibility it maintains to this day at considerable expense.

A second liability was the paying of fees to the Manchester and District Council of Synagogues for undertaking services. As the funding for the Communal Burial Board was based on those few cases where money from the family was available, the burden of maintaining this service became more and more onerous. The offer by the Synagogue Council it would fund the undertaker’s fees were more than welcomed.

During 2006/7 the Rainsough Trust, a charity set up by a number  of  local entrepreneurs worthy of great praise, raised substantial funds to improve the burial ground. The Communal Burial Board benefited great from the land reclamation scheme that took place which provided it with a new area of available grave space for its own needs as well as the opportunity to sub-let some grave spaces in return for financial assistance with maintenance costs.

The  Communal Burial Board has come a long way since it made its first grant at the end of the nineteenth century. However, it still continues to fulfil its sacred obligation of providing a dignified burial and resting place for those indigent members of the Community.

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