We set up The CemeteryScribes project in 2008. Our aim was to photograph and record the information inscribed over the centuries on headstones in Jewish cemeteries across the country before its irrevocable loss to the ravages of acid rain, urbanization, neglect and vandalism.
Since that time, we have photographed many thousands of stones in over 100 burial grounds throughout the UK and beyond, with particular emphasis on the old historic cemeteries of, Alderney Road, Brady Street and Lauriston Road (Ashkenazi and the Novo / Nuevo (Sephardi) in London. Quite an achievement. But we still have a long way to go.
Before we launched the project, there had been a great deal of animated discussion on message boards regarding the propriety of publishing such records on the internet. There were many who thought it should not be done at all, and many who favoured an “anything goes” approach which would permit publication of even the most recent stones. After much thought, we felt it reasonable to go ahead but, in order to avoid inadvertently causing distress to bereaved families or individuals, we decided on a cut-off date of 1927 (later extended to 1928) see About Us and FAQ’s. Judging by the number of visitors to the site and the numbers of enquires regarding Jewish genealogy we receive, both asking for, and offering, photographs and additional information, we have been pretty successful. These contacts are most welcome and can be mutually helpful.
But we are getting an ever increasing postbag of enquiries that we are quite unable to answer. And enquirers who with varying degrees of politeness, castigating us for our inability to do so. Here is a sample:
- Is XY buried in your cemetery?
- I know XY is buried in your cemetery but is not on your website, why?
- What time is the burial of XY? I need to know urgently to get there in time.
- Please send me a photo of XY’s tombstone, I can’t find it on your site (no mention of which cemetery it might be!).
- Please send me a photo so I can see the condition of the stone before I visit
We read and acknowledge all messages and will always try to help with queries regarding individuals featured on our Cemeteryscribes website (or on our sister site SynagogueScribes But questions such as those listed above, fall outside our remit and our competence and processing them takes valuable time. So, we would ask first-time visitors to the site to visit the about Us and the FAQs pages before writing to us and to bear in mind the following points:.
- Our current cut-off date is 1928. This will be changed every so often. No stones after our current cut off date will appear on our site unless they are WW1, WW2 or Holocaust related or added at our discretion, and not every cemetery has been completely photographed (this is clearly stated on the relevant cemetery page).
- We do not own, run, or otherwise have any connection to ANY burial ground. Any enquiries regarding funeral times, funeral costs, maintenance of tombstones, etc., should be addressed to the relevant cemetery or Burial Society
- We do not consider ourselves competent to answer queries on burial rites and practices
- We cannot confirm, or otherwise, whether a particular stone is that of your ancestor with the same name
- We do not offer a Genealogy service.
What we do offer is a useful resource for those studying their Jewish Ancestry, for those who live outside of the UK to possibly find photos of their ancestors’ tombstones which would otherwise be difficult for them to do. And, most importantly, a record of inscriptions from historic tombstones that may not be available as the years go by.