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Rabbis Agree to Resolve Burial Issue

Israel’s chief rabbis agreed this week to seek a solution to the controversy about burials for immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Many of the immigrants are not considered Jewish by the Orthodox rabbinate and burial societies.

The chief rabbis promised to set up a committee to look into the matter in depth after meeting Wednesday with members of Yisrael Ba’Aliyah, the new immigrants’ rights party. The party, headed by former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, won seven seats in the Knesset and is a partner in the Likud-led government.

While burial is perhaps the most sensitive issue for the immigrants, Yisrael Ba’Aliyah members raised other concerns with the chief rabbis.

The party wants an improvement in the level of religious services offered to immigrants, including sending representatives from Israel’s rabbinic courts to the former Soviet Union.

In addition, Yisrael Ba’Aliyah asked the rabbis to ensure that Russian-speaking aides are accessible in the offices of local rabbis and religious councils and that a national network of courses in Jewish studies be established for immigrants.

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