The redevelopment of Bushey Cemetery is on track for completion and consecration by the end of 2017, religious leaders have said, leading to thousands of new burial plots by the spring.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and United Synagogue president Stephen Pack visited the site, in Little Bushey Lane, this week, with Mirvis describing it as a “place of awe”.
The overall cost of the project is £9million and incorporated in the design are two new prayer halls, which feature walls made of rammed earth. These use highly-compressed natural materials clad with timber to store heat in the cold and stay cool in the summer.
The high-profile delegation heard how the site’s environmentally-friendly approach involved water features and a range of plants, leading Mirvis to say it was a “place of dignity and beauty, tranquility and awe”.
He added that the site’s development was “a vital mitzvah,” while Pack said the multi-million pound project would be “a most dignified and attractive cemetery that the whole community can be proud of”.
Pack argued that the site’s development would help cater for the needs of the community, saying: “As mainstream Orthodox Judaism continues to thrive in our communities, we must ensure that this vital communal infrastructure is in place.”
Mirvis added that the development “highlights that for us, as Jews, it is of the utmost importance that we care for our departed loved ones”.
Chairman of the US property committee, Peter Zinkin, said; “The support of both the Chief Rabbi and the president of the US for this project illustrates how very important this development is to us all. The new Bushey Cemetery will be a key feature in the Jewish landscape for years to come – one which will provide many thousands of people with a fitting resting place for their loved ones.”
Referencing the biodegradable walls, US property services director Lali Virdee said: “This is a visionary project which makes innovative and creative use of natural materials in a way that recognises the cycle of life.”