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Jerusalem - Rabbis Promote Layered Burial

Published on: March 1, 2012 11:18 PM
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Jerusalem - Four senior national-religious rabbis have joined an initiative promoting “high-density” burial as a means to alleviate the increasingly problematic lack of burial land in the country.

The initiative was launched ahead of the traditional day of personal accounting for Burial Societies, which occurs on the Hebrew date of Adar 7 and fell this year on Thursday, and also marks the anniversary of the date on which Moses was born and died.

The campaign, initiated last week by the Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah national-religious organization, was endorsed by Rabbis Benny Lau, Yuval Cherlow, David Bigman and Yehuda Shaviv.

Layered burial, Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah says, is part of the recent and ongoing struggle for social justice, and a revolution in social attitudes to the issue is crucial in preventing future generations being burdened with an unaffordable amount of land being used for burial.

There are several forms of highdensity burial, but the one being advanced is known as “Sanhedrin burial,” because of its use in the past during the times of the Sanhedrin court, and involves interring coffins within a wall in a layered fashion.

“We wish everyone to live until 120,” the petition begins, “but when the time arrives for one of our loved ones to leave this world, we want to encourage, if possible, that their family endeavor to bury them in a layered burial plot.”

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According to the campaign, highdensity burial is permitted by Jewish law and was also practiced by Jewish sages in ancient times. Layered burial has also been approved by chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger who say that it is totally acceptable and considered the same as more traditional burial.

Because of the land shortage, particularly for burial plots, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has also begun a public campaign to encourage high-density burial, although the public has not yet warmed to the idea.

More than 35,000 Jews die every year in Israel. At present, each dunam (0.1 hectare) of burial land can hold 270 plots, which translates as 150 dunams of land given over to burial every year. By 2020, 1,000,000 dunams of land will be needed for burial plots.

According to Jewish law, cremation is forbidden.

Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post


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Read Comments (19)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 01, 2012 at 11:27 PM VeyIzMir Says:

Basically apartment buildings for the Niftarim!

2

 Mar 01, 2012 at 11:31 PM Anonymous Says:

In other words they are pushing for mausaliams.

3

 Mar 02, 2012 at 12:06 AM AKIVAF Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

In other words they are pushing for mausaliams.

A mausoleum (you spelled it very wrong) refers to an external free-standing structure. The Taj Mahal is an example. It does not have the ma'alos of the type of graves here which while they are stacked, each one is individually in contact with the ground. In a mausoleum, since its above ground, either the bottom only or none are actually in the ground.

4

 Mar 02, 2012 at 01:10 AM Barsechel Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

In other words they are pushing for mausaliams.

No apartment buildings but I think that according to Halacha above ground burials are forbidden , also one on top of the other is also forbidden what they are talking about here is that you can cut into a mountain and build like " terraces" so even though it looks like above ground it is considered to be part of the mountain
Anyway this Article is very poorly written as it does not explain the issue clearly.

5

 Mar 02, 2012 at 03:10 AM Avreich1 Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

In other words they are pushing for mausaliams.

"In other words they are pushing for mausaliams."

No, #2, not necessarily; in fact, not at all. Mausolea are חיקוי הגוים and negate that wonderful Jewish position that all of us are equal in death.

It is common in many countries for a couple to buy a grave space "ahead of time". When the first partner dies he/she is buried twice as deep as usual. When the survivor follows into העולם הבא he/she is interred above.

Whenever I fly in a helicopter here in Israel I am always struck by the large number of patches of white on the ground - cemeteries. Although death cannot be avoided, it is up to us to utilize the land available to us in our country in the best possible manner.

Respect for our dead is very important, but meanwhile life is for the living.

Best wishes and שבת שלום ומבורכת.

6

 Mar 02, 2012 at 06:40 AM Anonymous Says:

Most Rabbonim say this is assur. There is no real shortage of space, it is just a matter of wanting to be close by. Better to bury in the desert than to bury in manner that goes against halacho.

7

 Mar 02, 2012 at 06:58 AM maersk Says:

This whole burial episode is mainly to 'arouse' public 'awareness' that theres not enough room to bury,(whilst being partly true,but also not wanting for there to be an alternatiue Solution) so the rip off price of a kever can go EVEN higher,Hakol kesef....

8

 Mar 02, 2012 at 07:48 AM Aron1 Says:

The math is faulty. 35,000 plots per year equals approximately 130 dunams per year (at 270 plots per dunam). At that rate, by 2020 (let's say 9 full years) only 1170 dunams will be required, not 1,000,000. At 1170 dunams per year, it would take over 800 years to reach a million dunams.

9

 Mar 02, 2012 at 08:03 AM Davethemave Says:

it's encouraging that you post an article saying that 1000000 dunam of land will be needed in 2020. true believers in moshiach.

10

 Mar 02, 2012 at 09:08 AM eighthcomment Says:

My solution is that people should just stop dying...but wait- then we need higher high risers...

11

 Mar 02, 2012 at 09:25 AM Stickpick Says:

#9 you've hit it. And this is definitely an opportunity to raise burial prices. After all prices are ridiculous. Many not so frum ppl are cremating bodies cuz they can't afford burial plots. This way the need smaller land.

12

 Mar 02, 2012 at 10:02 AM qazxc Says:

Reply to #9  
Davethemave Says:

it's encouraging that you post an article saying that 1000000 dunam of land will be needed in 2020. true believers in moshiach.

Sorry but I fail to see the problem with discussion of what will be in eight years if we c"v are still in galus.

Don't shuls and yeshivos take a few years sometimes to raise pledges and put up a building?

13

 Mar 02, 2012 at 11:49 AM Butterfly Says:

They did this hundreds of years ago in European countries, like Italy. It was done below the ground, similar to wine cellars.

14

 Mar 02, 2012 at 12:35 PM Undertaker Says:

What are the burial places of eminent rabbis, with their 'ohalim', than mausoleums?

Eminence in death does not fit in with Jewish tradition, although I suppose that some are more "equal" than others, even under the ground.

15

 Mar 02, 2012 at 01:50 PM lostinCA Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

Most Rabbonim say this is assur. There is no real shortage of space, it is just a matter of wanting to be close by. Better to bury in the desert than to bury in manner that goes against halacho.

Are you a rov? have u studied this issue and the poskim that deal with it?
I did and it is 100% muttar. the article doesn't make it clear. But what they are referring to is using an in-ground grave (not a masoleum above ground) for 2 or more people. it is done in the USA today, esp for couples. the halacha is you need 3 tefachim of earth separating between the people. In EY, a cemetery has been built into a hillside that will allow 10 people in the same grave.

The real challenge can be the water table and how low they can dig the grave. In some places, u can't go below 6-7 feet without hitting water. This system of burial is going to spread around everywhere over the next few years, as people want to be buried near relatives, rebbes, etc. and room is tight.

16

 Mar 02, 2012 at 02:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

Most Rabbonim say this is assur. There is no real shortage of space, it is just a matter of wanting to be close by. Better to bury in the desert than to bury in manner that goes against halacho.

I am not sure where you are getting this info from but 2000 years ago people were burried in a circafgus ( not sure of spelling) like structure underground with several other people. The most famous one is in France.

17

 Mar 02, 2012 at 03:47 PM Erlich Says:

First, they should ban Jews who die outside of Eretz Yisrael from being buried in Israel.(The transportation of Niftarim to Israel is a big business for Jews in America). Land in Israel should be devoted to the living -- farms, orchards, factories, schools, parks, apartments.

18

 Mar 03, 2012 at 09:40 PM farsighted Says:

Ah, so there is a problem.

What happened to the Sinai peninsula? Oh, they didn't need it.

Who needs land anyway, if we need space we could spread upwards

19

 Mar 03, 2012 at 09:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #17  
Erlich Says:

First, they should ban Jews who die outside of Eretz Yisrael from being buried in Israel.(The transportation of Niftarim to Israel is a big business for Jews in America). Land in Israel should be devoted to the living -- farms, orchards, factories, schools, parks, apartments.

"they should ban Jews who die outside of Eretz Yisrael from being buried in Israel"

A better idea would be for you to take birth control to prevent population overcrowding

20

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