JERUSALEM (Feb. 5)
The Ashkenazie Chief Rabbi of Migdal Haemek, Yitzhak David Grossman, denied that he banned women from attending funerals on grounds that their presence together with men could “cause disaster.” Israeli women protested furiously.
He complained, in full page advertisements in several newspapers Wednesday, that he had been a victim of media misrepresentation.
Grossman and his Sephardic counterpart. Rabbi Avraham Menahem, were reported to have issued the ban because of an abnormally high number of deaths in the town recently. At the funeral of a local woman last week, her daughters, granddaughters and sisters were not permitted to approach the grave until the men had left.
Grossman said he never issued an halachic injunction but was merely conforming with the wishes of the deceased. He was quoted in the media as saying “The public demanded that we do something about all these disasters (the recent high death rate) and since it is written in the Zohar that women’s attendance at funerals can cause disasters, we decided this was the best course of action.”
Grossman said he has no intention of banning women from funerals. There was no comment from Rabbi Menahem.