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15 Adar II 5760 - March 22, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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State Comptroller: Religious Affairs Ministry a Failure at Burial Management
No Room in Dan Area Cemeteries

by E. Rauchberger and A. Cohen

State Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg has stated that the Religious Affairs Ministry is a complete failure in all that pertains to its handling of burials in Israel. Speaking in the Knesset last week, Goldberg added that despite serious findings in last year's report on this issue, nothing has been done to correct shortcomings which should have been attended to immediately.

The Registrar of Nonprofit Organizations, Amiram Bogat, said that despite recommendations by his superiors to dismantle the Tel Aviv Chevra Kadisha, he now plans to postpone such a step until the end of current deliberations on this issue in the High Court. He said that he also plans to try to reach agreement with the Minister of Religious Affairs regarding a number of additional burial places.

Director of the Tel Aviv Chevra Kadisha, Yehoshua Yishai, said that since his appointment to head the organization he has begun to correct all of the shortcomings of the Chevra Kadisha in Tel Aviv.

At the same time, the Chevra Kadisha of Tel Aviv is warning about a serious lack of burial plots in the Dan region. A thorough mapping made by the company indicates that in all of the cemeteries under the authority of the Chevra Kadisha of Tel Aviv, only 1560 burial spots remain.

Director general of the Chevra Kadisha Yehoshua Yishai sent an urgent letter to Minister Chaim Ramon, head of the Ministerial Committee for Burial Issues. In it Yishai warns about the impending catastrophe and the devastating results of the situation which will ensue if the development plans of the Chevra Kadisha are not immediately approved.

The Tel Aviv Chevra Kadisha serves the entire Gush Dan region, which numbers about a million-and-a-half people. Every year, it deals with 8500 burials. It is responsible for six cemeteries, three of which are classed as "closed" and are inoperative: the Yaffo, the Trumpeldor and the Nachlas Yitzchok cemeteries.

In his letter to Minister Ramon, Yishai presents details in respect to the remaining cemeteries of the Chevra Kadisha. He writes: "In Kiryat Shaul 460 places remain, in Cholon 100 and in the Yarkon cemetery 1000. Preparing the reserve ground in the Yarkon cemetery, which in any case includes only 5200 more burial plots, is being delayed due to an administrative order issued by the Petach Tikvah municipality to cease work on this area."

Yishai notes: "In order to grapple with the lack of burial spaces in the Dan region, the Chevra Kadisha, like other large Chevros Kadisha in the country such as those in Haifa and Jerusalem, has developed a special method for taking maximal advantage of the area designated for burial. It has also developed addition methods such as burial on levels and doubled burials.

"Despite the development of these methods and the maximal use made of the areas slated for cemeteries, the Chevra Kadisha has encountered administrative difficulties which are delaying the continuation of the development of the lands in its possession.

"Recently," writes Yishai, "the Petach Tikvah municipality issued an administrative order to cease development work on the plots in the Yarkon cemetery area. The meaning of the order is that within a month, burials will cease to take place in this cemetery.

"Under such circumstances, the Chevra Kadisha will not be able sell a living couple a plot beside their deceased relatives," Yishai writes.

In the letter, copies of which were sent to the Prime Minister, the Religious Affairs and Interior Ministers and the mayors of cities in the Dan region, Yishai asks that Minster Ramon intervene in the issue, and convene an urgent meeting of the Ministerial Committee which he heads, and find a solution to this pressing problem.

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