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Category Archives: Jewish
The eastern half of Hoop Lane belongs to the Sephardi tradition, with flat slabs slightly raised from the ground. To be frank, I found the place completely overwhelming: the planting of hedges and trees that's traditional in English cemeteries might make the place pretty, but it also serves to stop you seeing too many graves at once. There's none of that at Hoop Lane: it's a wide, bleak ground filled with white monuments to the horizon.
The western half is more usual to English eyes, with upright gravestones. There's still - as normal in a Jewish cemetery - very little planting beyond a line of standard roses along the main path.
Inexplicably, I found this open on a Saturday. Apart from a fox who sat and watched me as I watched him, there was no one else to be seen in the cemetery. The small, rectangular ground crammed with gravestones in neat rows, a central path running between them, was the first Jewish cemetery I ever visited. I found the stark dryness quite overwhelming; I hadn't yet learned to see the more subtle details of the Jewish memorial tradition, not least the wonderful habit of leaving a stone on the gravestone when you visit (so much nicer that flowers rotting in cellophane).
About a year after I visited, the cemetery was desecrated by vandals. I worried (wrongly, I think, or I wouldn't have put the photos back online) that they had used my website to find somewhere to target.
Notes written in 2011.
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