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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Admas Kodesh’

My Machberes

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Cemetery Restoration:
The Jewish Press At The Forefront

With the contributions of Torah Editor (and rav of Khal Bnei Matisyahu) Rabbi Yaakov Klass and the editorial leadership of Senior Editor Jason Maoz, The Jewish Press and this column have been privileged to assist in the resolution of cemetery preservation efforts abroad.

We are particularly proud to have been of assistance in the cemetery preservation and restoration impasse deliberations in Romania and Spain that were favorably moved ahead and successfully resolved. The following press release from the Admas Kodesh organization reflects the positive results of the many efforts invested:

Admas Kodesh Resolution on Jewish Cemeteries
Ratified by the Council of Europe

At the initiative of Admas Kodesh, the Standing Committee of the Council of Europe has unanimously adopted a landmark resolution on the protection of Jewish cemeteries at its meeting in Tirana, Albania, on May 25, 2012.

This milestone has been reached after a seven-year campaign of intense lobbying at this major European body based in Strasbourg, representing 47 European member states and composed of 636 parliamentarians.

Brooklyn-based Admas Kodeshis the American arm of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, also known as C.P.J.C.E., has extensive legal and political experience in the fields of human rights, freedom of religion, protection and preservation of cultural heritage, and education. This leadership has been recognized in the Council’s resolution.

The initiative for this important resolution, which will hopefully have a major effect on the protection of hundreds of thousands of Jewish graves in Europe, came from Rabbi Abraham Ginsburg, secretary general of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. Having actively been involved in campaigns to protect Jewish cemeteries and mass graves in a number of Eastern and Western European towns, Rabbi Abraham Ginsburg realized that recognition of the importance of protecting Jewish cemeteries must be addressed within a European political and legal framework.

With the active support of the revered Rosh Yeshiva and President of the C.P.J.C.E., Rabbi Elyakim Schlesinger, and Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, Mattersdorfer Rov and leading member of the American Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, and Rabbi Yitzchok Zekel Pollak, Dayan of Machsike Hadass Kehila of Antwerp, together with Rabbi Chaim David Zweibel and David Moskowitz of New York, Mr. Nathan Rothschild of Zurich, and Professor Zvi Loonstein of Amsterdam, the long slow bureaucratic processes of Council of Europe were gradually set into motion, leading to this significant outcome.

Raising awareness of the particular Jewish sanctity of all Jewish burial sites including Jewish mass graves made a tremendous Kiddush Hashem throughout the Council’s different committees involved.

Admas Kodesh praises the open-mindedness of Council delegates who were presented for the first time with a comprehensive explanation of the Jewish laws pertaining to burial sites. They truly marveled at the beauty of the halacha.

The necessity of consulting with world-recognized Rabbonim on questions relating to Jewish burial sites at risk was emphasized, and C.P.J.C.E. compiled a special treatise on “The Sacred Obligation of Burial and Life After Death in Jewish Belief,” containing explanatory notes on this subject written by Rabbi Schlesinger, revered Rosh Yeshiva Horomo in London, and head of the CPJCE’s Rabbinical Board. The role and dedication of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe has been highlighted in the resolution and its leadership in this field has been recognized.

The massive legal research involved in this campaign was conducted by Professor Christians, expert in religious freedom at Louvain-La-Neuve University, who also compiled, at the request of Admas Kodesh, a major study on “Protection and Preservation of Jewish cemeteries and Mass graves in European and national law.”

Meeting with the consul general of Romania.

The resolution, based on these major essays, declares: “The Assembly asserts that right of freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights upholds the right of the deceased to rest in peace in accordance with their religious belief and the responsibility to protect human dignity in a broader sense, by ensuring that deceased persons are preserved in their place of burial in a manner compatible with their religious practice.”

The explanatory memorandum of the resolution has been built on a detailed report written by C.P.J.C.E. experts. It contains a description of Jewish burial sites, the threats they face, consequences of desecration, case studies, examples of difficult cases and good practices for protection of Jewish burial places.

My Machberes

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Kohanim ‘Do Not Fly’ Determination

Leading rabbinical authorities in Israel have issued a proclamation prohibiting kohanim from being on planes ascending from or landing at Ben Gurion Airport from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. The pronouncement is the result of the rerouting of jumbo jets leaving and arriving at that time. Those flights are routed over the cemetery of Cholon. The ruling was issued by Rabbi Nisan Karelitz of Bnei Brak; Rabbi Moshe Bransdorfer, rav of Heichal HaTorah and Badatz Dayan in Jerusalem; and Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein, member dayan of Beis Din Shevet Levi.

The cemetery in Cholon has been problematic for more than ten years. Kohen protection groups have an ongoing open dialogue with Ben Gurion Airport and similar problems have been resolved in the past. In addition, halachic solutions have been contemplated, including issuing plastic body bags to kohanim that would separate them from their immediate environment. The bags have been determined to be impractical.

Protecting Kohanim

It is told of the Vilna Gaon, himself a firstborn son, that he gave five silver coins to every kohen he met, hopeful that one of them would indeed be a genuine kohen, to ensure that he would be redeemed under the rules of pidyan haben as proscribed in the Shulchan Aruch. In January 1999, the Jewish media reported widely on scientific findings identifying consistent patterns in the DNA of kohanim worldwide, distinguishing them from other Jews. Science now supports the longstanding assumption that today’s kohanim are in fact decedents of Aharon HaKohen, proof that the privileges granted and responsibilities assigned to today’s kohanim are not misplaced.

Jewish monument, Green-Wood Cemetery.

However, kohanim also have special restrictions. They cannot participate fully in funerals, nor can they marry divorced women. As a single male kohen gets older, his pool of potential marriage partners is greatly reduced. Further, if he divorces his own wife, Heaven forbid, he cannot remarry her.

A group of prominent rabbis, many of them kohanim, convened in October 2001 and established Vaad Mishmeres Kehuna, an organization whose express purpose is dealing with contemporary problems confronting kohanim. Since the mitzvah of maintaining and honoring the holiness of kohanim is biblical and obligatory upon every Jew, it is of interest to us all.

Notable among the participants were the venerable kohanim Rabbi Avraham Pam, zt”l (1913-2001), Rosh Yeshiva Torah Vodaath; and Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l (1909-2001), Rosh Yeshiva Bais Yisroel. Also participating ybch”l were the brothers Rabbi Usher Anshel Katz, Viener Rav; Rabbi Chaim Leib Katz, Serdehaly Rav; and Rabbi Shlomo Zalmen Katz, Toldos Aharon Rav of Williamsburg. Rabbi Yechezkel Roth, Karlsburger Rav and prominent posek, was also present.

The prohibition of kohanim coming into contact with cadavers, or human body parts, extends to cemeteries, funeral homes and hospitals. Airplanes carrying cadavers to be buried overseas also pose great problems for traveling kohanim. In the New York City area, several highways adjoin or travel through cemeteries. Overhanging trees may possibly prohibit kohanim from using these streets and highways. The Boro Park-Williamsburg route is adjacent to the Green-Wood Cemetery, one of the most prestigious cemeteries in the United States. In addition to famous governors, generals, authors, and politicians, Jews too are buried there, requiring serious attention to the permissibility of Kohanim using McDonald Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway, the main artery of Boro Park-Williamsburg travel.

Leonard Bernstein gravesite, Green-Wood Cemetery.

Encompassing 478 pastoral acres, more than 600,000 gravesites are presently found in Green-Wood. Recently, two plots were being made available by private parties in its Jewish Section. In fact, the cemetery is non-sectarian. The noted composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) is buried in Green-Wood.

Driving up 20th Street along Greenwood Cemetery, approximately 100 feet from 7th Avenue toward 8th Avenue, one can easily see a monument gravestone that has a Star of David and Hebrew lettering spelling out the name of the deceased, the name of his father. Joseph (Yosef ben Shmuel) Bausch was 47 years old when he died on June 13, 1942 (28 Sivan, 5702), and he was buried in lot no. 31394 on Border Avenue within Green-Wood Cemetery, corresponding to the opposite side of 400 20th Street, which houses a car wash. Several trees have branches overhanging both the street and the gravesite, definitely precluding ordinary travel there by kohanim. The entire perimeter of the 478-acre cemetery poses the potential of the same problem.

The Vaad Mishmeres Kehuna has worked with the cemetery to have those tree branches, and similar problematic branches along McDonald Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway, busy thoroughfares used by Jewish commuters, cut in such ways to avoid problems for kohanim.

Flights Over Cemeteries

In October 2001, the problem of flight patterns of planes leaving Ben Gurion Airport and flying over the cemetery in Cholon came to public attention. Previously, since maps of those flight patterns were generally unavailable to the public, a definite determination could not have been made. Those maps became available around that time and were presented to leading rabbis for review.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/my-machberes/my-machberes/2011/12/21/

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