The United Synagogue (the ‘US’) operates a Funeral Expenses Scheme (‘FES’) which is available to members of the US to join if they wish. Membership of the scheme is subject to the payment of an initial joining fee, if applicable, and continuous payments each year of US membership subscriptions and the annual FES fee.
Members of the FES are entitled to:
- A burial in one of the active US cemeteries, currently being Bushey New and Waltham Abbey. There is an option, at an additional one-off cost, to be buried in one of the US partially closed cemeteries, for example, Willesden and Bushey Old.
- Members who pass away within the M25 will be collected with no additional charge. If further away, then responsibility falls to the deceased’s family to organise for transport to a US cemetery. Support and guidance will be offered in these circumstances. The Burial Society does not offer an out of hours service; if a person passes away and has to be moved in such circumstances any costs incurred will have to be paid by the family.
- Following the ritual washing (taharah), the deceased will be dressed in shrouds. Men are also dressed in a Tallit which will be supplied if required.
- A minister, usually from the community that the member belongs to, will conduct the funeral service.
FES membership does not include:
- Reservation of a specific grave space prior to the member passing away, or an adjoining plot for a spouse or other family member.
- The costs relating to a stone-setting. These costs will include a booking fee for the stone-setting as well as the charges levied by the stone mason for the stone and its erection.
- Ongoing maintenance of the stone after the stone setting.
- Costs associated with transporting the deceased to a non-US cemetery, including those in Israel.
- Should membership of the FES cease at any time, contributions paid into the FES are non-refundable. Furthermore, a re-joining fee may be charged for those wishing to restart their membership.
- The US currently operates reciprocal arrangements with a small number of provincial orthodox burial societies. Members wishing to transfer to another orthodox burial society will need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to establish whether that particular society is part of a reciprocal arrangement.
The current (2024) FES rates are:
- £7 for members aged 21-30
- £93 for members aged over 30 (per person, per annum)
I’ve heard that some people pay veteran FES contributions; what is this?
Veteran FES rates are 50% of the standard FES rate. This rate is available to those who have been members of the United Synagogue for 50 continuous years or more. You can apply for this discounted rate by contacting your local Shul.
If I unfortunately have to bury a member of my family who is not a member of the United Synagogue, how much will it cost?
The current cost of a burial at Bushey and Waltham Abbey cemeteries is £16,000.
My son/daughter has disabilities – how can I cover him/her for burial?
There is a Special United Synagogue Burial Scheme. The current cost is a one-off payment of £3,500 for a prepaid funeral (Burial in either Bushey/Waltham Abbey Cemetery). To find out more contact Michelle Mervish (020 8343 5687). Please note each case is treated individually on its own merit.