MARSEILLES (Mar. 5)
Members of the Jewish community of Marseilles have expressed shock over a court decision requiring the community to abandon the Jewish cemetery of Trois Lucs just outside this city, and to empty the graves of the cemetery. In the mid-60s, when a large part of North African Jewry settled in southern France, North African Jewish leaders decided, in accordance with tradition, not to bury their dead together with non-Jews. Most cemeteries in France are mixed in that respect, including the Saint Pierre cemetery in Marseilles.
Accordingly, the new Jewish community here acquired a lot in the middle of Marseilles but municipal officials, opposing the proposed Jewish cemetery as conflicting with town planning projects, proposed an exchange of lands. The Jewish community accepted the ground on which the Trois Lucs cemetery was set up. But the Jewish Chevrah Kadishah (burial society) of the Israelite Cultural Association of Marseille, failed to comply with French regulations for creation of a new cemetery.
The owners of neighboring plots, contending the presence of the new graveyard caused a decline in the prices of their plots, went into court to stop the Jewish cemetery. A Marseilles court issued a series of injunctions to the Chevrah Kadishah to stop burials in the Trois Lucs cemetery and to empty existing graves by March 10. The Jewish community appealed the court orders but the higher Aix En Provence court ruled against the community, finding that it had not met the regulations for a new cemetery. Jewish religious law bars disinterment of Jewish dead.
Observant families of Jewish deceased buried at Trois Lucs are protesting bitterly both against the Jewish community and French authorities. The Chevrah Kadishah has been warned by the court it will have to pay a fine for each day after March 10 that the court injunction has not been complied with. The case will be heard by the French Supreme Court but the Aix court decision, under French law, must meanwhile be obeyed.
An association for the defense of the Trois Lucs cemetery has been formed. Both the French Jewish Consistory and the French rabbinate have expressed their opposition to any transfer of dead buried at Trois Lucs as a violation of Jewish religious law.