Jewish Guildford

Haimishe since 1180

Guildford and District Jewish Community
Burial Procedure

1 Burials Officer

The Burials Officer, who is the first point of contact in the event of bereavement, is Ray Wicksman, whose telephone numbers is 07557 524004. Please note that the mobile number is not permanently on, so it is safer to leave a message on the first home number than on the mobile. Alternatively email the burial officer.

2 English Law

2.1 The first procedure is to obtain a medical certificate of death. This will be provided by the Doctor who attended the deceased in his/her last illness. In the case of a sudden death, or if there is any doubt as to the cause of death, the matter will be referred to the Coroner’s office; the Coroner will decide whether to issue a medical certificate or arrange for a post-mortem examination (with or without an inquest). If the Coroner’s office becomes involved, the Burials Officer will try to help.

2.2 The medical certificate should then be taken (by appointment) to the Registrar of Deaths in whose area (the boundaries are those of Borough/District Councils) the death occurred (NOT where the deceased lived). The Registrar will issue the required number of Death Certificates (the Solicitors handling the Estate normally like two or three), and also a “green form” permitting burial.

2.3 Registrars operate in conventional office hours; however, they are aware of the need, in the case of Jews and Muslims, not to delay burials. Each Registrar therefore has a mobile call-out number, and will be prepared to come in, say, on a Sunday morning. But they will not be available at unreasonable hours. So, in the case of a death on a Friday evening, they may be contacted after Shabbat to arrange a Sunday appointment. The details of relevant Registrars are as follows.

Office tel
Guildford, Waverley and Surrey Heath
Artington House Portsmouth Rd Guildford
01483 562841
07968 832418
Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley and Reigate & Banstead
The Mansion
70 Church Street
01372 832800
07968 832421
Elmbridge, Runnymede, Spelthorne and Woking
81 Oatlands Drive
01932 794700
07968 832415

3 Jewish Law

3.1 Burial in Guildford Jewish Cemetery requires adherence to halacha. This entails taharah (the ritual washing of the deceased). Cremation is not permitted, and the Community will not assist in any way therewith.

3.2 To arrange taharah, the family or the undertakers should contact the United Synagogue Burial Society (the Chevra Kadisha) based at Bushey cemetery by telephoning 020 8950 7767. There will be a requirement for transport to and from Bushey for taharah, which will need to be arranged with the undertakers. For reference, the Chevra Kadisha charges £175 for a male including a coffin and a shroud. It is customary to bury a male in his own Tallit, which the family or the undertakers should supply to the Chevra Kadisha. For a female the coffin and shroud are the same, but there is a donation to the lady volunteers. Taharah should only be performed after the “green form” has been issued.

3.3 One of the advantages of this process is that the coffin is much cheaper than those used by non-Jewish undertakers, and is also in conformity with Jewish tradition.

3.4 It is trite Jewish law that any adult male in good standing can conduct any religious service. If the family of the deceased so wishes, the Community will endeavour to provide an appropriate officiant for a burial.

3.5 The family of the deceased is also responsible for arranging, and paying for, a headstone. The wording requires prior approval by the appropriate Officer of the Community. Precedent wording is available via the Burials Officer.

4 Burial Arrangements

4.1 In addition to the undertakers’ charges, burial in Guildford Jewish Cemetery incurs a fee payable, via the undertakers, to Guildford Borough Council for the grave space. This fee is normally doubled for non-residents of Guildford, but this extra fee is waived for non-Guildford Members of Guildford and District Jewish Community (“the Community”).

4.2 Members of the Community may contribute, at the rate of £50 pa per family, towards a Burial Scheme, which pays out in the event of the death of a family member
after a burial, regardless of where that burial takes place. The maximum payment is £600, payable after six years’ contributions; before then payment is £100 multiplied by the number of unbroken years of contribution. Any Member who fails to pay an annual contribution is deemed to have withdrawn from the Scheme, and loses any entitlement.

4.3 Non-Members of the Community will be charged an Additional Fee of £750, payable to the Community,
which the undertakers will charge as part of their invoice, for which they may require payment prior to burial.

4.4 The Community has a standing arrangement with the Guildford undertakers Robert Ayling, who should be used if at all possible. This is because they are part of the national chain Dignity, and are therefore best placed to effect a burial at short notice. There is also an agreed protocol as to costs, which excludes the normal “Personal Care” head (effectively laying out the deceased for viewing, which is not part of Jewish tradition); the total bill (excluding any Additional Fee) is likely to be a bit over £3,000.
Contact: Rebecca North at The Old Post Office, 107 Aldershot Road GU2 8BE: 01483 567333.

4.5 Undertakers will make arrangements to collect the body; for transport for taharah; and with Guildford Council for the grave space. They will invoice the family concerned. The Community accepts no financial responsibility to the undertakers.
November 2018