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Court: Personalized Engravings Allowed on Military Headstones

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Reversing decades of tradition in Israel, the High Court of Justice has ruled that personalized inscriptions should be allowed on military headstones.

The 4-1 ruling on Monday reversed an earlier court decision that upheld the custom of uniform inscriptions, as prescribed by the Israel Defense Force and the Ministry of Defense Committee to Commemorate the Soldier.

More than two and a half years ago, the family of Eran Wixelbaum, who died in a tragic military accident, approached the defense committee to request that the words “Brother to Jackie, Limor and Adi” be added to Wixelbaum’s military headstone. The committee refused the request, and the family turned to the High Court, which initially ruled against the family but this week reversed its decision.

In the past, the defense committee reasoned that because military graves are uniform and simple, the same must apply to the inscriptions on the headstones. But over the years increasing numbers of bereaved families raised objections to this practice.

Monday’s ruling called for the defense minister to establish new regulations that would allow families to add personalized inscriptions that would not interfere with the headstone’s military appearance. The ruling also stated that the complete uniformity in military headstones is unrealistic.

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