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Holocaust Day Tomstone Consecration

Last updated: 2003-01-29

On Monday, (National Holocaust Memorial Day) the United Synagogue consecrated a tombstone at Bushey cemetery, to mark the site of recently buried hearts of Holocaust victims.

These organs of victims, who perished in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, had been passed to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1948. They had originally been removed during post-mortems by Britain’s Royal Army Medical Corp.

The Royal College of Surgeons contacted the Office of the Chief Rabbi during 2001, when following the Alderhey Inquiry, they no longer deemed it appropriate to retain the organs in storage as part of their collection. The United Synagogue then arranged a speedy burial in accordance with Jewish law.

The service was led by Rabbi Meir Salasnik (Rabbi of Bushey United Synagogue and Chairman of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue) and other Officiants included Belsen survivor Rev. Gershon Glaussiuz and Rev. Leslie Hardman who as British Military Chaplain played a role in the liberation of the Belsen camp.

In his address, Rabbi Salasnik said:

"Many countries have a tomb of the Unknown Warrior to represent those lost in War. We do not know the names of the individuals whose hearts we buried. They represent all the Holocaust victims - this grave is one place in this country where anyone can come to remember victims of the Shoah."

The Service which was attended by over 100 people included readings from senior Jewish ex-servicemen and the recitation of memorial prayers. James Clappison MP whose constituency incorporates Bushey Cemetery was present together with Cllr. Stuart Nagler, Mayor of Hertsmere Borough Council. The Mayor was accompanied by his chaplain, Rabbi Gideon Sylvester of Radlett United Synagogue, who recited a memorial prayer. United Synagogue President Peter Sheldon was also present.