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May 27, 2016 / 19 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘burial’

1,700-Year-Old Gravestones of Unknown Rabbis Uncovered in Northern Israel

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Three 1,700-year-old burial inscriptions in Aramaic and Greek have been uncovered in the northern Israeli community of Tzipori.

The discovery came after residents of the moshav found pieces of the stone and called the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology at Kinneret Academic College.

Researchers from the college excavated the site together with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The two Aramaic inscriptions mention individuals referred to as “rabbis” who were buried in the western cemetery of Tzipori; their names have not yet been deciphered.

According to Dr. Motti Aviam of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology, “The importance of the epitaphs lies in the fact that these reflect the everyday life of the Jews of Tzipori and their cultural world.

“Researchers are uncertain as to the meaning of the term ‘rabbi’ at the time when Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi resided in Tzipori together with the Tannaim and after him by the Amoraim – the large groups of sages that studied in the city’s houses of learning.

“One of the surprises in the newly discovered inscriptions is that one of the deceased was called ‘the Tiberian’. This is already the second instance of someone from Tiberias being buried in the cemetery at Tzipori.

“It is quite possible that Jews from various parts of Galilee were brought to Tzipori to be buried in the wake of the important activity carried out there by Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi.

“Another possibility is that the man moved to Tzipori and died there, but wanted to be remembered as someone who originally came from Tiberias,” he explained.

In the second Aramaic epitaph the word ‘le-olam’ (forever) appears for the first time in inscriptions found at Tzipori. The term le-olam is known from burial inscriptions in Beit She‘arim and elsewhere. “It means that the deceased’s burial place will remain his forever and that no one will take it from him. Both inscriptions end with the Hebrew blessing ‘shalom,’” Aviam explained.

Greek inscription on ancient gravestone found in Moshav Tzipori in northern Israel.

Greek inscription on ancient gravestone found in Moshav Tzipori.

“The Greek inscription mentions the name Jose, which was very common amongst Jews living in Israel and abroad.”

So far, 17 epitaphs were documented in the Tzipori study, most of them written in Aramaic, which was the everyday language of Jews in Israel at that time.

Contrasting this are the funerary inscriptions found in Tiberias – the second capital of the Galilee – which were mainly written in Greek.

Several of the ancient inhabitants from Tzipori are mentioned in these inscriptions, which include the names of rabbis and often have the names of the professions they were engaged in. Aramaic was the everyday language used by the Jews in the period of the Mishnah and Talmud, but some of them also spoke and read Greek, and thus there are also burial inscriptions in that language.

Tzipori was the first capital of the Galilee from the time of the Hasmonean dynasty until the establishment of Tiberias in the first century CE. The city continued to be central and important later on and was where Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi resided and compiled the Mishnah.

Jewish life in the city was rich and diverse, as indicated by the numerous ritual pools (mikvahs) discovered in the excavation.

At the same time the influence of Roman culture was also quite evident as reflected in the design of the town with its paved streets, colonnaded main roads, theater and bathhouses.

The wealth of inscriptions from the cemeteries attests to the strong Jewish presence and the city’s social elite in the Late Roman period.

Hana Levi Julian

Berlin Rabbi Approves Relocation of Jewish Woman’s Remains

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Love knows no bounds, and in some cases it knows no distance either.

Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin, Germany, last week authorized the exceptional transfer of a grave from the local community cemetery to Chicago, in the United States.

The grave belongs to a woman who arrived in Berlin with her family from Lithuania in the German city in 1937 while still in transit, at age 67. After she was laid to rest, her family paid their respects but then continuted to the United States where they eventually settled. It was her grandchildren requested their grandmother’s body be transferred to join them, and the body of her husband, in the cemetery in Chicago, explained Rabbi Teichtal.

In an exceptional Halachic ruling on Jewish law, the rabbi states that according the Halacha, usually the Torah forbids the relocation of a grave, even for a more honorable location.

Nevertheless, he added, in the case of reuniting family members, it is allowed by all adjudicators in light of what is written in the book of “Shulchan Aruch”: ‘It is the finest of pleasantries for a man to be buried alongside the bones of his forefathers.’

“In our case we have the grave of both a spouse and a family member. In light of that and after consultations with other major rabbis, I have come to the conclusion: ‘In light of the fact that it is the will of the deceased’s family members to re-bury her in Chicago alongside her husband and family, I will specifically allow it”, wrote Rabbi Teichtal.

In light of this halachic ruling, tritish authorities said this week the coffin was excavated last Wednesday from the burial ground at the Jewish community cemetary in Berlin, under the supervision of Rabbi Teichtal and was flown to Chicago, where a second funeral for the woman took place, 78 years after her death.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Volunteer Organization Solves Mystery of Cadaver in Cardboard Box

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

(JNi.media) This was not a pre-Halloween hoax: the family members of an elderly woman who passed away shipped her body to Israel without attaching any relevant documents, baffling Israeli authorities, until ZAKA, an association of voluntary community emergency response teams in Israel, discovered she was an 80-year-old Russian who wanted to be buried in Israel.

The cargo crew at Ben Gurion International Airport, working the graveyard shift early Wednesday, discovered the body of an unidentified woman packed in a cardboard box when unloading a plane that arrived in Israel from Russia. Foreign Ministry officials summoned ZAKA volunteers to the airport, to help locate the deceased’s family.

ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said in a statement: “I got a call at night from the Department of Israelis in the Foreign Ministry, regarding packaged cargo on a plane that arrived from Moscow—with a woman’s body inside and without any accompanying document attesting to the identity of the deceased or the sender, as well as the necessary certifications.”

After hours of intense activity by ZAKA, assisted by the commander of ZAKA in Russia, Shaye Deitch, it turned out that the deceased was the late Esther Zizova, who passed away at the age of 80 11 days earlier. Further investigation revealed that the deceased had asked in her will to be buried in Israel, but her family was not familiar with the process of transferring a body, and so they packed her up and sent her via regular package shipping.

With the assistance of the Foreign Ministry, the required documents obtained after the fact, and the deceased will be taken for burial at the cemetery in Ashdod.

JNi.Media

Israel to Withhold Bodies of Terrorists From Families

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Israel’s Security Cabinet voted Wednesday to approve a suggestion by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan not to return to families bodies of terrorists killed during attacks.

“The family of the terrorist turns the funeral into a demonstration of support for terrorism, and incitement to murder. We must not allow it,” Erdan said.

“We must do everything possible to prevent the terrorist from receiving honors and ceremonies after having carried out an attack.”

Erdan also suggested burying such terrorists in IDF cemeteries on the far borders of Israel that have been set aside for this purpose.

Families often turn funerals for terrorist relatives into massive celebrations where the departed jihadist is honored as a hero.

The nation’s Security Cabinet also approved a host of other security measures late Tuesday night.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Capitulates — Returns Bodies of Nar Nof Terrorists [video]

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Israel has quietly reversed its stand and has handed over the bodies of the two Jerusalem-Arabs who carried out the brutal massacre in the Har Nof Synagogue last month. The families buried the terrorists in a ceremony replete with Palestinian Authority flags.

The massacre left four American-Israeli and British-Israeli rabbis dead, as well as a Druze policeman who came to their rescue. Seven more people were wounded.

Police remove casualties from a Har Nof synagogue after two Jerusalem Arabs butchered four Jews to death.

Police remove casualties from a Har Nof synagogue after two Jerusalem Arabs butchered four Jews to death.

The Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency reported that the families’ lawyer issued a statement after midnight confirming the release of the bodies, a month after Israel held them pending further consideration.

Chief Police Inspector Yigal Elmaliach told the Israeli court system, as reported here.

“The State of Israel is trying to cope with the recent wave of attacks. One possibility being considered is not to return the bodies to the families, but [for the state] to bury them. The issue is being examined at the highest levels.”

The families of the terrorists, Ghassan and Uday Abu al Jamal, who were cousins, went to court to demand the release of the bodies. Ma’an said that Israel agreed to return the bodies after ”the intervention of the lawyer.”

Israel’s reversal means either that it learned that it would lose the case in court, or that officials at the ”highest levels” now think that holding the bodies for five weeks was enough to help cope with the recent wave of attacks.”

The “wave” has subsided” if one follows Israel’s major media that play down or completely ignore attacks such as this week’s ambush of a vehicle that came under an attack of cinder blocks that nearly killed the driver, Jeff Seidel, and two passengers, as The Jewish Press first reported here.

The “wave” has subsided unless it washes ashore again with more murders and attempted murders of Jews. Then, if the terrorists are killed, perhaps the government will again decide to hold the bodies to help cope with the attacks.

The Har Nof savages were given an honorable burial before dawn Thursday in eastern Jerusalem in the presence of no more than 40 relatives, according to the lawyer who spoke with Ma’an.

A Palestinian Authority flag was held during the ceremony.

Below is the video of one of the funerals.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Alternative Group Replaces Orthodox Society at Boston Funeral Home

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

A new non-denominational Jewish burial society has replaced an Orthodox one at a Boston-area Jewish funeral home.

Community Hevra Kadisha of Greater Boston, which launched this fall and is part of a growing movement of Jewish burial societies that include non-Orthodox volunteers, began performing tahara – the ritual preparation of bodies for burial – at Brezniak-Rodman Chapel in West Newton, Mass., last week.

Until this month, the Orthodox-run Chevrah Kadisha of Greater Boston, whose membership is by invitation only, had been the sole provider of tahara at Brezniak-Rodman and other area funeral homes.

After Brezniak-Rodman announced that it would provide space for the new group, which has more than 100 volunteers, Rabbi Naftali Horowitz, who is known as the Bostoner Rebbe, sent a letter stating that the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston would continue operating there only “if we are the only one using the facilities.” Allowing a nondenominational group to use the funeral home’s facilities would “add great confusion regarding the standards which will be administered,” the letter said.

Last week, Brezniak-Rodman confirmed that the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston had stopped working with the funeral home.

David Brezniak, owner of Brezniak-Rodman, said of Horowitz, “I respect his decision, and he needs to respect mine. I thank him for whatever he’s done over the years, and that’s it.”

Officials from the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston, including Horowitz, did not respond to inquiries from JTA.

Brezniak said the new group employs the same standards in conducting tahara as the Orthodox one, and that he has been pleased so far with their work.

“The people doing this are very dedicated,” he said. “They’re not cutting any corners.”

JTA

Beginning The Journey

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

A while back, a British newspaper, The Times, interviewed a prominent member of the Jewish community (let’s call him Lord X) on his 92nd birthday. The interviewer said, “Most people, when they reach their 92nd birthday, start thinking about slowing down. You seem to be speeding up. Why is that?”

Lord X replied, “When you get to 92, you start seeing the door begin to close, and I have so much to do before the door closes that the older I get, the harder I have to work.”

Something like that is the impression we get of Abraham in this week’s parshah. Sarah, his constant companion throughout their journeys, has died. He is 137 years old. We see him mourn Sarah’s death, and then he moves into action.

He engages in an elaborate negotiation to buy a plot of land in which to bury her. As the narrative makes clear, this is not a simple task. He confesses to the locals, the Hittites, that he is “an immigrant and a resident among you,” meaning that he knows he has no right to buy land. It will take a special concession on their part for him to do so. The Hittites politely but firmly try to discourage him. He has no need to buy a burial plot. “No one among us will deny you his burial site to bury your dead.” He can bury Sarah in someone else’s graveyard. Equally politely but no less insistently, Abraham makes it clear that he is determined to buy land. In the event, he pays a highly inflated price (400 silver shekels) to do so.

The purchase of the Cave of Machpelah is evidently a highly significant event because it is recorded in great detail and highly legal terminology – not just here but three times subsequently in Genesis, each time with the same formality. For instance, here is Jacob on his deathbed, speaking to his sons:

“Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebecca were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites” (Genesis 49:29-32).

Something significant is being hinted at here; otherwise why mention, each time, exactly where the field is and from whom Abraham bought it?

Immediately after the story of land purchase, we read, “Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and God had blessed Abraham with everything.” Again this sounds like the end of a life, not a preface to a new course of action, and again our expectation is confounded. Abraham launches into a new initiative, this time to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac, who by now is at least 37 years old. Abraham leaves nothing to chance. He does not speak to Isaac himself but to his most trusted servant, who he instructs to go “to my native land, to my birthplace” to find the appropriate woman. He wants Isaac to have a wife who will share his faith and way of life. Abraham does not specify that she should come from his own family, but this seems to be an assumption hovering in the background.

As with the purchase of the field, so here the course of events is described in more detail than almost anywhere else in the Torah. Every conversational exchange is recorded. The contrast with the story of the binding of Isaac could not be greater. There, almost everything – Abraham’s thoughts, Isaac’s feelings – is left unsaid. Here, everything is said. Again, the literary style calls our attention to the significance of what is happening, without telling us precisely what it is.

The explanation is simple and unexpected. Throughout the story of Abraham and Sarah, God had promised them two things: children and a land. The promise of the land (“Rise, walk in the land throughout its length and breadth, for I will give it to you”) is repeated no less than seven times. The promise of children occurs four times. Abraham’s descendants will be “a great nation,” as many as “the dust of the earth” and “the stars in the sky.” He will be the father not of one nation but of many.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/rabbi-lord-jonathan-sacks/beginning-the-journey/2013/10/24/

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