Kehilat Middlesbrough Newsletter No 21 September 2004 page 1 (of 2)
Ed note: This is an abridged version of the article which appeared in the Newcastle Recorder
Middlesbrough has been in the news - mentioned in the JC - but not a report of mine - and on radio by the Chief Rabbi on Thought for the Day. It was not to tell the world that we had won the Carling Cup. Rather was it to announce the appalling vandalism at the Old Cemetery. However, I must add that according to the Press the residents and the Police do not think it was anti-semitism. I hope they are right, but yes there has been vandalism in other local cemeteries.
Pure1y by chance the Mayor was at a coffee morning I had arranged for "the remnants". Pamela Muscat had come also to tell us of the work she was doing and the help she could provide. Her talk was most interesting. Mr & Mrs Gellert had kindly come and Joe put matters very cogently to the Mayor. The Mayor was most concerned and his promise to investigate the incident was speedily implemented. He held a meeting of top personnel on the site on 7th July and there have been further meetings.
The Cemeteries Department of Middlesbrough has undertaken considerable work. Many trees and bushes have been removed and the outside boundary hedge has been trimmed so that the area can be readily viewed by police and Street Wardens. Patrolling has been increased. Headstones which had been pushed forward are being turned over and fragments are being joined together. Where possible the stones will be laid on a sand cement base with a slight slope from the top downwards. CCTV has been installed.
Work is also being undertaken at the New Cemetery. CCTV is to be installed. The Prayer House is to be taken over by the Council for educational purposes but will be available for Jewish funerals and stone-settings. Repairs to the roof will take place, toilets will be added and historic detail and character will be restored. David Simon Stokesley, England