RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — An Israeli Jewish man buried seven years ago in a non-Jewish cemetery in Brazil was given a proper Jewish burial after his exhumed body was found in a garbage bag.
The discovery was made two weeks ago when his brother visited the grave in Sao Paulo, the Hebrew-language news website B’Chadrei Chareidim reported.
Carlos Ginsberg’s remains had been exhumed and were stored in a blue plastic bag labeled with his name. Another person’s body was buried in its place with a new headstone.
Under Brazilian law, a body buried at a public cemetery can be exhumed after seven years with the remains moved to a different location, freeing up the grave for another body.
Rabbi Yisroel Meir Riani, head of B’Noam, which deals with religious issues, said that Ginsberg’s son, who lives in Israel, received a call from his uncle, who was devastated to discover that his brother was no longer in his final resting place.
“When Carlos Ginsberg died, his brother did not have money to pay the chevra kadisha (Jewish burial society) to bury him in the Jewish cemetery so he decided to bury him elsewhere,” said Riani. “He was not familiar with the Brazilian law that allows them to dig up the body after seven years.”
Ginsberg, who had emigrated from Israel to Brazil, had difficulty making ends meet and none of his family members, all of whom are traditional Jews, had the funds to pay for a Jewish burial.
Efforts by the family to have Ginsberg’s remains transported to Israel, despite intervention by the Israeli minister of religious affairs, David Azoulay, were unsuccessful because the death had taken place too long ago.
Riani told B’Chadrei Chareidim that a man who is heavily involved in charitable work in Brazil, Elio Moti Sonnenfeld, offered his help, and “after a week of intense work, we were able to convince the chevra kadisha” to bury Ginsberg in the Jewish cemetery.
Several dozen people turned out for Carlos Ginsberg’s funeral last Friday.