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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘cemetery’

Longfellow And The Jewish Cemetery At Newport

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) is a beloved American poet and educator whose notable works include Paul Revere’s Ride, The Courtship of Miles Standish, The Village Blacksmith, and Evangeline. He wrote many lyric poems known for their musicality, often presented stories of mythology and legend, and was the first American to translate Dante’s Divine Comedy.

In the summer of 1852, Longfellow brought his family to Newport, Rhode Island, for a vacation and while walking the local streets he became captivated by the old Jewish cemetery, which he visited on July 9, 1852. As he wrote in his diary:


Here we are, in the clover-fields on the cliff, at Hazard’s house; near the beach, with the glorious sea unrolling its changing billows before us. Here, in truth, the sea speaks Italian; at Nahant it speaks Norse. Went this morning into the Jewish burying-ground, with a polite old gentleman who keeps the key. It is a shady nook, at the corner of two dusty, frequented streets, with an iron fence and a granite gateway…


The Jewish Cemetery at Newport, his poem about the site, published two years later, was a sensitive portrayal of the place and its people, as he included tender references to “Hebrews in their graves,” knowledgeable mentions of Jewish religious practices, and sympathetic references to Jewish persecution. Exhibited with this column is a quotation from the poem, originally signed “With Mr. Longfellow’s compliments.”

Founded in 1677, the Jewish Cemetery is the second oldest Jewish graveyard in the United States. Nonetheless, at the time of Longfellow’s visit to Newport with his family, it was logical for him to consider it strange to find a Jewish cemetery there. Newport had been financially devastated during the Revolution, when the British occupied the town and seized ships and other resources. After the successful resolution of the war, most prosperous merchants left for cities such as New York and Savannah, which by then had displaced Newport as commercial centers.Singer-072216

The Newport community was left behind by the rapid forces of industrialization, and successful Jewish merchants had moved on as well, so that by the time of Longfellow’s visit, there were very few Jews there. However, by the time he wrote The Jewish Cemetery the old seaport town had begun to attract members of Boston’s intellectual elite.

Longfellow began his poem by expressing his surprise at finding a synagogue – which he describes as being “a shady nook, at the corner of two dusty, frequented streets” – in an old New England port town. However, this was actually not surprising, since neither Portsmouth (where he grew up), nor Cambridge (where he lived), nor Boston, nor any other New England town or port, had a colonial-era Jewish community. “How strange it seems! These Hebrews in their graves, Close by the street of this fair seaport town…” Today the synagogue remains the oldest surviving synagogue building in the United States.

As a former language professor at Harvard, Longfellow could read and write Hebrew, and his musings on what might have led the first Jews to Newport in the 17th century indicate that he knew a bit of their history. Isaacs, Judah, Moses, Alvares, Rivera…these first Jews of Newport had fled religious persecution and arrived at New Amsterdam in the New World in 1658. The settlement of Newport, then only nineteen years old, welcomed them and later embraced a group of Spanish Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisition. Obviously moved by, and sympathetic toward, the plight of the Jews, Longfellow was eerily prophetic in his poem; his well-educated, enlightened mind could surely not have imagined the persecutions and suffering that were still to come for the Jewish people

In the tradition of English contemplative poetry of the 18th century, he both paints a physical portrait of the cemetery and explores his own ruminations. But it is the final – and controversial – line that has caused the poem, and the cemetery, to be remembered:


But ah! what once has been shall be no more!

The groaning earth in travail and in pain brings forth its races, but does not restore,

and the dead nations never rise again.


The poet Emma Lazarus (1849-1887), who frequented Newport at her family’s summer home, was inspired at age 18 to write In the Jewish Synagogue of Newport (1867), one of her earliest creative expressions of Jewish consciousness. Famously arguing that while the Jews may be down they will nonetheless exist forever, she concentrated on the synagogue and its continuing living power and concluded that “the sacred shrine is holy yet.”

Thus, while Longfellow wrote from the perspective of cynicism and old age and as a non-Jewish outside observer, Lazarus considered the same subject from the perspective of youth and as an insider raised within the Jewish community. She later developed a friendship with Longfellow, frequently corresponded with him and, upon his death, eulogized him in the April 4, 1882 edition of The American Hebrew.

And of course, when all is said and done, Lazarus was correct and Longfellow was dead wrong. As we say in the vernacular: Am Yisrael Chai!



Saul Jay Singer

Body of ‘Jerusalem Bezeq Terrorist’ Returned to Family, Buried as an ‘Honored Martyr’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Late Monday night Israel Police returned the body of Ala’a Abu Jamal, the Bezeq technician-turned-terrorist who carried out a ram-and-stab attack in Jerusalem seven months ago.

Abu Jamal murdered Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky on Malchei Yisroel Street last October, ramming his Bezeq car into a crowd waiting at a bus stop. He then got out of the vehicle and then attacking people with an axe until he was shot and killed by a security guard.

Some 200 Jerusalem Arabs crowded outside the cemetery during the killer’s funeral in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, in the Jabel Mukabar neighborhood.

The funeral became a mass scene of hatred and incitement to more terror, with participants in the proceedings calling out “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is Great) and “In blood and faith we will avenge you, O Martyr!”

Watch the video at this link.

It is not the first time a terrorist’s funeral has erupted in demonstrations of hatred and incitement to terror – one reason that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had opposed the return of the bodies of terrorists who died while killing Israelis, to the Palestinian Authority and/or the families.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon vehemently disagreed with this policy, as do military and intelligence officials, who say it simply exacerbates tensions without accomplishing deterrence.

On Tuesday morning, Erdan once again instructed police to cease returning terrorists’ bodies to their families for burials.

“I was just shown the outrageous images from the funeral last night in East Jerusalem, in which the conditions set by the police were violated and the commitments made by the families were broken,” Erdan said, according to the Hebrew-language Ynet news site.

“The terrorists’ families lied to the High Court of Justice. It’s a shame the High Court believed them and pressured the police to return all the bodies by Ramadan.”

But police claimed the family met the conditions that were set — only 40 people were allowed into the cemetery. Border Guard Police prevented the crowd from entering.

Police delayed the return of the body for six months, until an agreement was reached with the family that the funeral would be held late at night with a small number of participants. The agreement was made in order to avoid the demonstration that developed in any case late Monday night – and despite the guarantee signed by the family.

The chanting took place outside the cemetery while the body was being carried from the nearby mosque to the burial site, police noted. (italics added)

Hana Levi Julian

May A Kohen’s Pregnant Wife Enter A Cemetery?

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Parshas Emor begins with the commandment prohibiting kohanim from becoming tamei. Additionally, Rashi quotes from the Gemara in Yevamos 114 that explains that the pasuk commands the adult kohanim to ensure that kohanim under the age of 13 do not become tamei.

A question arises based on these halachos: May a kohen’s pregnant wife enter a cemetery? On one hand, she should be permitted to do so, since the halachos of tumah only apply to male kohanim. On the other hand, perhaps the fetus she is carrying is a male, and she is obligated to ensure that he does not become tamei.

The Shach (Yoreh De’ah, siman 361) quotes the Rokeiach, who says that a pregnant woman married to a kohen may enter a room with a dead person in it. He says that this is permitted because it is a sfek sfeika (double safek). One safek is whether she is carrying a male or a female fetus; the other is that even if she is carrying a male fetus, perhaps the child will be a nefel (not a full-term pregnancy or a child who does not live for 30 days).

The Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim, siman 343:2) says that he does not know why the Rokeiach had to rely on a sfek sfeika in order to permit a kohen’s pregnant wife to enter a room with a dead person in it and suggests that this should be permitted because of the concept known as taharah baluah – if something is completely enveloped inside something else it cannot contract tumah. The Gemara, in the fourth perek of Chullin, clearly extends this to something inside a uterus. Since the fetus is considered baluah, it cannot contract tumah. Therefore, a kohen’s pregnant wife should be permitted to enter a cemetery – even if she knows that she is carrying a male fetus.

In volume 2 of Kovetz Shiurim, siman 41, Rav Elchanan Wasserman zt”l, Hy”d raises his concern with the Magen Avraham’s approach. He discusses whether the prohibition for a kohen not to become tamei is merely that he must remain tahor, or whether the prohibition is for a kohen to be in the same room as a dead person – regardless of whether he actually contracts tumah.

Rav Elchanan then discusses whether the concept of taharah baluah dictates that the item that is enveloped simply does not contract tumah, or whether we consider that it is not in the same room as the tumah. If we assume that the Torah dictated that the item remains tahor but is still considered to be in the same room as the tumah, and that a kohen may not be in the same room as tumah even if he would remain tahor, then a kohen’s pregnant wife would be prohibited to enter a room with a dead person in it. Even though the fetus would not contract tumah and would remain tahor, it would nevertheless be in the same room as a dead person– which is prohibited. Thus, he explains, the Rokeiach had to bring a heter of sfek sfeika in order to permit the pregnant wife of a kohen to enter a cemetery, since taharah baluah would still not permit her entry.

As we have explained, according to the Rokeiach, a kohen’s pregnant wife may enter a cemetery because of a sfek sfeika while according to the Magen Avraham, she may enter because the fetus is considered baluah and therefore cannot contract tumah. One difference between these two approaches would be in the situation where one is aware that the fetus is a male, i.e. through ultrasound. One of the Rokeach’s sfeikos was whether the fetus is a male or a female. If one knows that the fetus is a male, there will no longer be a sfek sfeika; rather, there will only be one safek, which a person is forbidden to chance.

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

We Remember – Yom Hazikaron 2016

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Photos by: Yossi Zamir/Flash90, Gershon Elinson/Flash90, Miriam Alster/Flash90, Hadas Parush/Flash90, Nati Shohat/Flash90

Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron

Yom Hazikaron

Photo of the Day

‘Everyone Said You Were A Heroine, My Hadari’

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Today the Nation of Israel paid their final respects to a Jewish heroine and a family who respected a daughter’s decision to serve her country, to protect her fellow Jews, and to do what she believed was right.

The buses and cars arrived from all over the country, well ahead of the hour set for the funeral procession for murdered Border Guard Police Officer Hadar Cohen, hy’d.

Just 19 years old, sworn into her a post a scant week earlier, Officer Cohen was called upon to prove her mettle almost immediately. She did not falter.

She paid with her life. Two policewomen who stood beside her were also wounded; one nearly paid the same price, but miraculously has survived.

Hundreds of mourners streamed into the small central Israeli city of Yahud to accompany her to her final resting place in the military cemetery there.

Among them was Ravit Mirilashvili, who persuaded doctors to allow her to attend the funeral of her partner.

Their fellow Border Guard Police partners were waiting there to greet her with arms open wide for warm hugs and tears.

Hadar’s father, Ofer, recited the Kadish, Judaism’s tradition, ancient prayer for the dead, in a tear-filled voice. Her sister Mor, said, “You have become precious to the entire people of Israel.” Her partner, Ravit Mililashvili, also came to the funeral together with her parents. She had told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to her bedside earlier in the day, “Hadar saved my life.”

But during his eulogy, Hadar’s father told his daughter in a choked voice, “My beloved child, how can I leave you now? Everyone says you were a hero, a true hero. That you saved many people with your body and your soul. But no one really knows you, my Hadari, your warmth.

“I have just these words to say to you: I am proud of you. Proud of you, and I salute you. Rest in peace; and may your soul be gathered into the bundle of eternal life.

Hana Levi Julian

Stabbing Victim Hadar Buchris, z’l, Remains in Beloved Jerusalem

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

The body of young Hadar Buchris, z’l was laid to rest at 3 pm Monday, Nov. 23 in the holy city of Jerusalem. Her parents requested the public to attend if possible.

Buchris, age 21, was murdered by a Palestinian Authority Arab who stabbed her Sunday in a brutal terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion bus stop on Highway 60 in Judea.

Although she lived in Safed (Tzefat), the family decided that their daughter’s body would be buried at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in the capital. “She really loved Jerusalem, and was very connected to the city, so in the holy city she shall be laid to rest,” her family explained to the Hebrew-language 0404 website.

The young woman’s family said it was “asking the people of Israel to please join them in accompanying their daughter on her final journey” as they lay her to rest.

May her memory be for a blessing. Yehi zichra baruch.

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/berlin-rabbi-approves-relocation-of-jewish-womans-remains/2015/11/09/

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