Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Deane Road Jewish Cemetery open day

I spent Sunday immersed in Jewish history. In the morning I went to Broadgreen Jewish Cemetery to Mr Arnold Winik's tombstone consecration. This gentleman was the father of Howard Winik, the Chair of the Standards Committee in Liverpool, who I worked very closely with as the Ethical Governance shadow last municipal year. Cllr Eddie Clein was there too, along with Beatrice's husband, but most people I did not recognise.

I was pleased to attend because as well as offering Howard my support at a difficult time, I wanted to witness the type of ceremony I could have expected to see in Deane Road had I been around 150 years ago. We were encouraged to lay stones, rather than flowers, on any graves of significance to us, so I left a stone for Ilona Marks, who was Saul's mum who died 7 years ago, and one for Ronnie Bracey who was a prime mover and shaker in our early efforts to restore the cemetery at Deane Road and who died in 2005. I "told" them both where I was going to next and who I would be spending the afternoon with.

I left Broadgreen (right next to the hospital) to go over to Deane Road Jewish Cemetery for our open day. We opened from 10am - 6pm as part of the National Heritage Week and were part of a tour package that included the Princes Road synagogue.

The publicity was not all it could have been, my fault, I was in charge of it, and I failed to get either the Echo or the Post to get excited about or promote the opening. However, I had much more success with Roger Lyon, who enthusiastically promoted it that afternoon and from 1pm people were arriving because they had heard about it on his show on BBC Radio Merseyside. Thanks very much to them! Also, someone stole our banner from the railings outside, or perhaps it blew away in the wind, but whichever it was, we were struggling to let people know we were open. However, with the radio, and with Muriel and I standing out on the road and accosting passers by, and with the help of the synagogue sending their guests down to us, we saw 100 people come in through the doors, so actually I was quite pleased with that.

We had some really interesting visitors - a man who is descended from Charles Mosley, first Jewish Lord Mayor of Liverpool and one of our most illustrious graves, a woman who, as a teenager, used to sit in the (then) big hole in the wall adjoining Needham Road with her friends and dare them to come into the spooky overgrown cemetery on the other side. We had lots of people who lived nearby, now or in the past, desperate to get their opportunity to see what lies behind the grade II listed facade, and we raised a decent sum of money in contributions at the gate.

It did rain about 4.30pm for an hour, but it didn't stop the hardy souls who were determined to go all the way round. A day well spent I think, gaining more valuable information in our efforts to win the Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

Photo courtesy of Howie on the Yo Liverpool website, one of our guests yesterday. Thanks very much for coming!

1 comment:

Colin said...

I .have been out with Rob tonight, nephew of R Bracey. Might see him tomorrow after the England game. Will let him know what you did, he will be very impressed