(JTA) – Israel’s deputy health minister has reportedly asked the attorney General to cancel an exhibition in Tel Aviv of preserved human bodies.
Yaakov Litzman, a leader in the haredi Orthodox political party United Torah Judaism, told Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein that Israeli law required bodies to be buried within 48 hours of death unless a government medical authority says otherwise, Israel Radio reported.
Litzman asked Weinstein to order the organizers to arrange for the burial of the bodies without further delay, according to the station.
“Bodies: The Exhibition” opened in Florida in 2005 and has since traveled to some 20 cities in Europe and the Americas. It opened in a southern Tel Aviv arts compound in June. Tickets cost the equivalent of $13.
The exhibition features 20 body specimens, 260 organs and partial body specimens which show the skeletal, muscular, circulatory and respiratory systems.
Three justices of Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in June to allow the exhibition, but said that the “way the bodies were used [in the exhibition] appears to be problematic with implications on morals and values.”
Their ruling was on a petition filed by attorney David Schonberg. He had presented the court with a statement by Meir Lau, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, who had said he was “appalled” by the show because it “conflicts with basic human right for a dignified death.”
In 2006, The New York Times published an expose about the origin of the bodies used in the exhibition, which may have belonged to prisoners executed in China.
Organizers wrote a disclaimer on the exhibition’s website stating that they “cannot independently verify that they do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons.”