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Israel Rabbinical Council Opposes Establishment of Private Burial Societies

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New regulations for the burial of Jews in Israel, which could open the way for the establishment of private burial societies independent of the rabbinate, were strongly protested today by the Chief Rabbinical Council in urging repeal of the measures.

The rabbinical group expressed regret that the Israel Cabinet had introduced “secularism” in a sphere regarded as sacred “for many generations.” Chief Rabbi Isaac Halevt Herzog presided at the meeting which approved a statement that If the Israel Government only wanted to make administrative changes In the law, this could be done within the traditional Jewish framework.

The regulations were approved by the Cabinet last Friday in line with recommendations of a Ministerial Committee set up as an aftermath of the sharp public debate last year over the burial of a boy with a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. The Pardess Hannah rabbinate refused to allow burial of the boy in the Jewish cemetery but did permit internment just outside the cemetery fence. Israel Bar Yehuda, Interior Minister, Pinhas Rosen, Justice Minister, and Zalman Arrane, Education Minister, made up the Ministerial Committee.

Under the new regulations, public groups, including Chevra Kedisha, would probably be permitted to handle burial of Jews. The Ministry of Religions, headed provisionally by Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, will continue to supervise control of burial societies. New licenses will be required for all societies and they must continue to function on a voluntary basis. Ben Gurion took over the Religious portfolio after Moshe Shapiro resigned as Minister, with other Religious Bloc members of the Cabinet, in an earlier religious dispute, that one having to do with national Identity cards for Israel Jews.

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