Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Secular cemetery to open in Israel

Haaretz: Jerusalem is planning to create a cemetery for secular Israelis free of charge, despite opposition from its ultra-Orthodox community....Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lublianski, a religious Jew, is behind the initiative. The burial grounds are to be built next to the Givat Shaul cemetery at the entrance to the city.....This is the first public secular cemetery in Israel to be endorsed by a municipal government, and is to be set in a city where 30 percent of the population is religious.According to the plan, every Jew will be able to receive the funeral and burial of their request, which could include music, a band or a choir, instead of the religious ceremony required at existing public cemeteries.Couples will be given the option of being laid to rest next to each other, and can choose the location of their graves."Whoever is not interested in living his life as a Jew or in being buried as a Jew has a place," said Lublianski. "Just as we don't compel people in their lives to live according to this mold or another, we also will not prevent someone from being buried as they please. On the contrary, we will help them to do so."The ultra-Orthodox community of Mea She'arim, a neighborhood typically supportive of Lublianski, has reacted harshly to the initiative of building a cemetery which they consider to be in violation of Jewish custom.Lublianski has not been deterred by their opposition. "Everything special that comes out of Jerusaelem will awaken some disagreements here and there. There is nothing here to object to, as far as I can see," he said.
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