On Sunday 23rd October we celebrated the first service to be held in the cemetery in well over 80 years.
It was a tombstone consecration honouring Lyon Samson, a Dutch immigrant optician who died in poverty in 1843 when no-one could afford a stone for him, but now his descendants have come together many years later to pay for one. They found each other through an interest in family history when they separately made contact with Saul Marks, our project chairman who is a Jewish genealogist.
I should point out that the grave stone setting or consecration is a very significant event in Jewish tradition. I imagine this is because the funeral should take place extremely quickly after death and so it gives an opportunity for the bereaved to honour the deceased where they could not make it to the funeral. Usually they occur on the first anniversary of the death, but in this case it was somewhat later than that...
We asked Michael Sprince to create a short film for us that would reflect this unique and special occasion.
I would personally like to thank everyone who came to support the family of Lyon Samson. Members of the cemetery committee who turned out in force, members of the local Jewish community, particularly those from the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation, Reverend Stanley Cohen, and the patrons, particularly Luciana Berger MP, fellow councillors, Pam Thomas (who was very helpful in providing assistance about future wheel-chair users to the cemetery) and Jeremy Wolfson, as well as the local police (who engaged one little boy beautifully), community members and interested passers-by. About 50 people were there to pay their respects to a man who died 168 years ago. Honour thy father and mother. It was very moving, you can take my word for that.
And on Monday 31st October, an exquisite date all things considered, the committee and the congregation handed over the responsibility of the cemetery to our builders and contractors. The scaffolding has gone up on the glorious listed facade this week and we look forward to the fruits of their work. We hope to take a restored cemetery back into our hands next Spring.
I recall many meetings in 2006 and 2007 in the Job Bank, as the committee sat and debated our options, when our chairman Saul Marks, plaintively and regularly asked "Do you think any of this will really happen?". Saul, it is time to believe.
And we have also discovered a most wonderful blog about our Heritage Open Day, courtesy of TheLiverpolitan. If the author wishes to make himself known to us, we would be delighted to keep him updated about our restoration project progress.