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Religious Jew Accused of Grave-robbing Says He Acted in Compliance with Halacha

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A religious Jew accused of grave-robbing, told a Rehovot magistrates court yesterday that he was acting in compliance with halacha when he removed the remains of Tereza Angelovitz from her grave in a Jewish cemetery two months ago after the local rabbinate claimed she was not Jewish. The woman died more than a year earlier.

Meir Agassi, 34, a Burial Society worker, was charged with the illegal disinterment and removal of a body. An accomplice, David Ehrenfeld, also 34, was charged with helping Agassi remove the body and transport it to Ramle. The bones, wrapped in plastic, were found in the Moslem cemetery there.

Angelovitz, a native of Rumania, was the wife of an Orthodox Jew whom she met in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Although a Rumanian Catholic, she was converted to Judaism before the couple came to Israel. Their daughter was also converted to Judaism some years ago and had reportedly told the Burial Society that her mother was Jewish.

Several months after Angelovitz’s death, an “informant” told the local rabbinate that she had not been properly converted. Efforts by the rabbis to have her remains removed from the Jewish cemetery were blocked by the courts.

Agassi said, “As a religious Jew I know that a non-Jew should not be interred in a Jewish cemetery… We did a very humane thing.” He admitted digging up the remains at night and depositing them in the Moslem cemetery. He said he though the cemetery was Christian because “there are some churches near-by.”

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