Local Jewish burial community denies a couple from pre-arranging their funeral because of religious reasoning.
In Israel, death care is overseen by local Jewish burial societies called Chevra Kadish. The Chevra Kadish makes sure the bodies of deceased Jews are taken care of according to Jewish tradition.
Free of charge Israeli citizens receive free transportation of the deceased, body purification, a small service, and approval of burial arrangements.
While Israel may have one of the most streamlined death care industries in the world it can create difficulties for locals who are not in the traditional mindset. When looking to purchase a burial plot a local Rehovot couple reached out to their Chevra Kadish to get final approval and were denied as it goes against Jewish tradition.
Unmarried couple denied
The Chevra Kadish informed the couple that unmarried men and women “cannot be laid to rest next to each other. Edna Shemesh, the one being denied her right to be buried with her partner, then reportedly told Hevra Kadisha that she held a secular worldview and saw its refusal to sell her the plot as religious coercion.
Shemesh arranged a meeting with her local branch to discuss the decision and the director
Rabbi Natan Weinfeld and was told that for 80 years, it has been a tradition not to bury unmarried couples side by side at that cemetery. Ms Shemesh then filed a lawsuit on the grounds of discrimination.
After the lawsuit was filed Mr. Weinfeld reviewed the requests and said there was a clerical error and that the plot was actually denied because it wasn´t able to be sold to those who are currently alive, which is in accordance with National Insurance Institute regulations.
Ignoring the error on the society Weinfeld states that while the circumstances of individual cases could be discussed, “We try very hard not to bury unmarried men and women next to each other, because of respect, custom, and Jewish law.”