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Israel Town Council Votes to Counteract Rabbinical Ban on Burial

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The Pardess Hanna town council voted today to reinter the remains of the child of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother after the rabbinical authorities had refused to permit the burial in the Jewish cemetery. The case was one of the issues that threatened harmony in the Ben Gurion coalition government and was one of the subjects of discussion between Premier Ben Gurion and leaders of the United Religious Movement earlier this week.

The child, Aharon Steinberg, five, had been denied burial in the town’s cemetery by the local rabbinate because he was not circumcized and therefore net considered Jewish, but burial was accorded him just outside the cemetery limits.

The city council, with one member dissenting, voted that the body should be reinterred in the new municipally-controlled cemetery with a full burial ceremony. The council resolutions expressed “abhorrence” over the handling of the situation by the local rabbi. The religious member of the council defended the rabbi, asserting that he had acted according to religious procedure in ordering the burial to be outside the Jewish cemetery.

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