‘Why is it in such a state?’

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community Life - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

A JC reader has de­scribed a scene of “ut­ter aban­don­ment and des­e­cra­tion” at the Ban­croft Road ceme­tery in Mile End, East Lon­don.

Dat­ing back to 1811, the ceme­tery was orig­i­nally used to bury Covent Gar­den mar­ket-traders. It was owned by Maiden Lane Syn­a­gogue, which closed at the beginning of the 20th cen­tury.

Su­sanna Clapham dis­cov­ered the ceme­tery­by­chance­whilein­ves­ti­gat­ing her fam­ily his­tory. She was dis­ap­pointed to find dozens of smashed graves and over­grown weeds.

“Ican’tun­der­stand­whyit’sin­such a ter­ri­ble state,” she said. “In this day and age it just seems so wrong. It’s not just the ceme­tery but other sites around here where Jewish peo­ple lived. It’s im­por­tant to pre­serve that her­itage.”

In 1940, the Board of Deputies agreed to trans­fer own­er­ship of a house on the site to the United Syn­a­gogue on the ba­sis that the US would then­main­tainthe­grounds­for£5per year. That agree­ment still stands.

Board of Deputies chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon Ben­jamin main­tained that the ceme­tery “is by no means a rub­bish dump.Iwrotealet­ter­last­week­tothe US re­mind­ing them about the 1940 agree­ment. What we must en­sure is that there’s no dump­ing of rub­bish, peo­ple are not break­ing in and that there is suf­fi­cient se­cu­rity.”

A US spokes­woman said i t s rep­re­sen­ta­tives vis­ited the ceme­tery reg­u­larly.

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