Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar 5761 - March 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Non-Jewish Soldier Buried Among Jews in Military Cemetery in Netanya
by Aryeh Zisman

The Chief Rabbinate of the IDF is incensed over a new policy enabling the burial of non-Jewish soldiers alongside Jewish ones in military cemeteries. On 6 Adar, a non- Jewish immigrant soldier from the C.I.S was buried in the military cemetery in Netanya after all attempts to stop this were unsuccessful.

An intense argument has long been taking place in the IDF on the issue of the burial of non-Jews in military cemeteries. Until now, the IDF has refrained from burying non- Jewish soldiers beside Jewish ones in such cemeteries, despite media pressure on the issue and attempts by anti-religious elements to change the policy. The IDF has always said that the feelings of the families of fallen Jewish soldiers must be taken into consideration, and that soldiers who are not Jewish according to halocho should not be buried beside Jewish ones.

This policy seemed to have changed when a non-Jewish soldier was buried in the Netanya military cemetery. The soldier's parents candidly admitted that they are not Jewish. Nonetheless, this did deter the IDF from burying him in a row with other soldiers from religious and traditional families. Needless to say, no one asked the families for their consent, and no one even informed them about the burial.

According to reliable sources, the Chief Rabbinate of the IDF is furious over this incident. All attempts to alter the order to bury the soldier were fruitless. The Chief Rabbi of the IDF was told that only Defense Minister Ehud Barak could stop it. It was reported that the Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, met with Ehud Barak and tried to convince him to prevent the non-Jewish soldier from being buried beside the Jewish graves. However, Barak did not comply with his request.

Our reporter asked the IDF Spokesman for his reaction. Last week, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said: "This story conjoins with a letter from religious officers from the tank force who announced that they would not be able to serve in the IDF due to problems that violate their consciences. The Defense Ministers always knew how to prevent the introduction of social rifts into the IDF so that religious soldiers would officially be able to serve in the army. However, the story about the burial of a non-Jewish soldier beside Jewish ones - - some of whom were mitzvah observant -- proves that the army will not enable service of religious soldiers. This is liable to result in a breakdown of the military system."

A reply by the IDF Spokesman was received by Yated Ne'eman: "Every IDF soldier is buried in a manner not contradicting Jewish halocho, and there has been no change in IDF policy on this issue." The IDF also denied that its Chief Rabbi had met with Ehud Barak on this issue. However, sources available to Yated Ne'eman say that such a meeting did take place.


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