Liberal Judaism consecrates first cemetery in more than 50 years

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Liberal Judaism consecrates first cemetery in more than 50 years

"This is our chance to rejoice in life and fulfil our duty to provide for the dead", says Rabbi Aaron Goldstein at Liberal movement's new woodland burial site in Buckinghamshire

Rabbis Aaron and Andrew Goldstein lead the way to the woodland - picture by Yakir Zur
Rabbis Aaron and Andrew Goldstein lead the way to the woodland - picture by Yakir Zur

Liberal Judaism held its first consecration ceremony in more than 50 years, as rabbis and members gathered to open the movement’s new woodland burial site at GreenAcres Chiltern.

Prayers were led by Liberal Judaism vice president Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein and Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, one of The Ark Synagogue’s senior rabbis, combining the consecration with a celebration of Sukkot.

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein said: “It might seem strange to rejoice in consecrating a burial space, but as we walked round this new plot singing psalms and waving the arba minim (the four species otherwise known as the lulav and etrog), it could not have been more appropriate.

“This was our chance to rejoice in life and fulfil our duty to provide for the dead, comfort the mourner and ensure the future planet for our generations to come.”

Rabbi Andrew Goldstein is the most senior member of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, having been in the rabbinate for 53 years.

Rabbis Aaron and Andrew Goldstein at the consecration – picture by Yakir Zur.

He said: “I have done countless baby-blessings, b’nei mitzvah, wedding and funerals, so it was extra special after all this time to add another experience – dedicating a burial ground; and what an inspirational place!”

GreenAcres Chiltern is a beautiful and peaceful woodland cemetery in the heart of the Buckinghamshire countryside and gives both Liberal Judaism members and non-members another option for a green burial – allowing the body to naturally return to the earth with habitats remaining undisturbed.

Its Woodland Hall, where funeral services for burials and also cremations can be held, looks out to a view of the forest.

Phil Stone explains the importance of the new woodland space – picture by Yakir Zur

Phil Stone, a Liberal Judaism vice president and the chair of its Cemeteries Committee, said: “Members of Liberal Judaism who attended the consecration service were overwhelmed with the beautiful surroundings of GreenAcres Chiltern and the sense of peace they provide.

“Bereaved families will find this new cemetery to be a refreshing and inspiring place to visit a loved one, at one with nature and its healing powers.”

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