The office of Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi wants to exhume from a Jerusalem cemetery the body of a woman said to be a Christian who pretended to be Jewish.
A top representative of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau outlined the plan in June to exhume or alternatively fence off the woman’s grave. Or L’Achim, an organisation that tries to counter Christian proselytisation in Israel, published the chief rabbi’s position laid out by the representative, Rabbi Raphael Altman, on its Facebook page this week.
Exhumation is an extreme measure in Judaism, where mortal remains should not be disturbed.
The woman, who had emigrated from the United States under Israel’s Law of Return for Jews, died of cancer several years ago and was buried at a Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem, where she had lived with her husband.
In April, Israeli and international media reported that the husband had been unmasked as a Christian missionary after years of living as a rabbi and a scribe in a Charedi community in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of French Hill.
The man, who was not named, told the Israeli media that he had been born Jewish and joined Jews for Jesus, a movement that Jews generally do not recognise as belonging to Judaism. But he had since returned to Orthodox Judaism, he said.
But his late wife was not Jewish and should not be buried at a Jewish cemetery, the chief rabbi’s office said, because that would be unfair to the Jews buried around her and their relatives, who believed they were buried along with their coreligionists, as is customary in traditional Judaism.
“All efforts must be done to move her to a non-Jewish plot,” Altman wrote in June. “If that’s impossible, a fence should be put around the grave.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.