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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘burial’

A Jewish Burial – Whatever The Price

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Rabbi Nir Donenfeld, the Chabad shliach to Cebu, Philippines was preparing for the festival of Purim, which was a well-planned and important day in his calendar.

In the midst of the preparations the phone rang.

“Rabbi, my husband Paul! He’s dead,” Mrs. Peskin, the widow exclaimed. She explained to Rabbi Donenfeld that her husband had died from a complication following heart surgery, and as she couldn’t afford a burial she was going to cremate him. Cremation is strictly forbidden by Jewish law.

As Rabbi Donenfeld listened to Mrs. Peskin, he learned that Mr. Peskin died in a hospital in Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which was 1,500 miles away from his Philippines home.

The rabbi knew that the only Jewish cemetery in the entire vicinity was full and could not take another funeral. He realized that at some time they would have to find alternative arrangements for funerals, but so far no alternative had been found.

He contacted a philanthropist friend in Hawaii who was dedicated to ensuring that every Jew receive a proper Jewish burial. The rabbi explained the situation and said that they needed to stop the cremation.

They contacted Rabbi Shlomo Feldman, a New York coordinator for Chesed Shel Emes (a Jewish burial organization). Now it was 1 a.m. in New York but they couldn’t afford to wait until the next day, as there was a lot of bureaucracy to get through.

Rabbi Feldman contacted Benjy Spiro, a veteran member of Chesed Shel Emes and up and coming askan in Los Angeles, as it was earlier in the night in LA and closer to Guam.

Their aim was to bury the deceased as soon as possible in accordance with Jewish custom.

However, Cebu does not have the Jewish or even general support that most developed countries are blessed with.

The Philippines are made up of over 7,000 islands and the widow and the rabbi lived on different islands. Both islands had poor internet and phone connections, making communication exceptionally difficult. After a discussion, they decided to have Mr. Peskin flown to New York. Once in New York, Chesed Shel Emes volunteers could receive him, give him a tahara followed by a proper halachic burial, in a Jewish cemetery located in Woodridge, NY, which was owned by Chesed Shel Emes for the specific purpose of burying meisi mitzva (Jews who have no one to take care of their burial).

A WhatsApp group was developed between all those involved, on which they shared all the paperwork, as well as information about state, federal, and international laws on the transportation of human remains, so that the body could be prepared in accordance with halacha and international law.

After several sleepless days, the team had been able to speak with the Guamanian and United States funeral homes, the airline, and the widow. This was no easy feat and involved catching people in various times zones, including a notary who visited Cebu only once a week.

Rabbi Dovid Heber of the Star-K, a notable expert on the halachos concerning the International Date Line was consulted to clarify the halachic issues concerning flying across the International Date Line, and when would be acceptable days to fly based on the Chazon Ish’s ruling.

Mr. Peskin’s body was released and sent on its long journey from Guam, to Tokyo, and connected to a flight to New York. The body was brought to Yereim Chapel in Brooklyn, NY, where a tahara was performed. When the chapel attendants opened up the coffin, they were amazed to find that the Guamanian funeral home had sent Mr. Peskin’s talit, a yad (a pointer for reading from a Sefer Torah), and his tefillin (a Rashi and Rabeinu Tam). Only a person who is especially particular about the mitzvah would use two sets.

Obviously Mr. Peskin had been more observant than they had been given to understand, but many things about this story remain a mystery.

A few hours later, approximately 150 people, who had never known Mr. Peskin, attended the funeral which took place at a Satmar shul in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, and Mr. Peskin was buried at the meis mitzva cemetery in Woodridge.

Thanks to the coordinated efforts of many dedicated volunteers working night and day. Jewish burial was given to a man who died penniless, over 8,000 miles from New York.

Ann Goldberg

First Philistine Cemetery Discovered in Israel

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Ashkelon (TPS) – A Philistine cemetery has been discovered for the first time in Israel, possibly shedding light on the mystery of the Philistines’ origins. According to biblical accounts, the Philistines were the arch-foes of ancient Israel.

“After decades of studying what the Philistines left behind, we have finally come face to face with the people themselves,” said Daniel Master, a professor of archaeology at Wheaton College. “With this discovery we are close to unlocking the secrets of their origins.”

Archaeologists and scholars have long searched for the Philistines’ origin. Artifacts found in the cemetery, which date back 2,700 to 3,000 years, may support the biblical account of the Philistines as migrants who arrived on the shores of ancient Israel from western lands in approximately the twelfth century BCE.

“Ninety-nine percent of the chapters and articles written about Philistine burial customs should be revised or ignored now that we have the first and only Philistine cemetery found just outside the city walls of Tel Ashkelon, one of the five primary cities of the Philistines,” said Lawrence Stager, Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel at Harvard University.

The discovery was made by the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon more than thirty years after the excavation began. The digs that took place in Ashdod, Ekron, Ashkelon, and Gath have shown how culturally distinct the Philistines were from their Israelite contemporaries.

Philistine burial practices were not like those of the Bronze Age Canaanites, nor were they similar to burial practices in later Iron Age Judea. The Philistines buried their dead primarily in pits that were dug for each deceased individual: male or female, adult or child. Later, more bodies were sometimes placed in the same pit, which was dug again along roughly the same lines, but the new remains were interred with their own grave goods. The cemetery was also found to contain evidence of cremations, together with pit interments and multi-chambered tombs.

After quelling Bar Kochba’s revolt in the Roman province of Judaea in 135 CE, Emperor Hadrian renamed the area Syria Palaestina, for the Israelites’ ancient enemies.

Research on artifacts found at the site, including bones, ceramics, jewelry and weapons, may connect the Philistines to related populations elsewhere in the Mediterranean Basin. Bone samples taken from the site are also being tested in order to ascertain the Philistines’ origins.

Most of the items found in the graves were storage jars, small bowls, and decorated juglets filled with what is believed to have been perfumed oil. While bracelets and earrings were found upon some of the remains and weapons with others, most of the individuals seem not have been buried with personal items.

The discovery was made in Ashkelon, a key port and maritime trade center from the Bronze Age to the Crusades, when it was destroyed and left uninhabited until modern times.

The excavation was organized and sponsored by the Leon Levy Foundation; the Semitic Museum at Harvard University; Boston College; Wheaton College; and Troy University, under license from the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Angry Turkish Neighbors Block Burial of ISIS Terrorist From Local Cemetery

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Angry neighbors refused to allow the family of ISIS terrorist Mehmet Öztürk, 24, to bury the body of their son in the cemetery of their home village of Gaziantep on Monday.

The family had filed a missing person’s report with police when Öztürk disappeared last week. Their son did not have a criminal record – one reason he had not been sought by police — but was known by intelligence to have ties with Da’esh (ISIS).

At 11 am on Saturday morning he made headlines as an ISIS suicide bomber, attacking a group of Israelis on a culinary tour near Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square on the pedestrian boulevard of Istiklal Street lined with foreign consulates, restaurants and cafes.

The disgrace was enough for his family’s neighbors to block his burial from their cemetery.

“Their neighbors didn’t let his parents to bury the attacker in the village,” a source in Istanbul told JewishPress.com, “so they had to bury him far away.

“No one came to his funeral.”

Hana Levi Julian

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.


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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-to-withhold-bodies-of-terrorists-from-families/2015/10/14/

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