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If you're planning to die in Jerusalem

by michael February 01 2008
Municipal news
Some pretty big news today: Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski approved plans to develop the first non-religious cemetery in Israel. This is significant for two reasons: first, until now, Jews in Jerusalem could not receive a non-Orthodox burial; second, Lupolianski hails from the Ultra-Orthodox community, and secular burial is an issue to which the Ultra-Orthodox community is fiercely opposed. Haaretz has the scoop:

The area designated for secular burials will be located inside the new cemetery at Har HaMenuchot. The project encompasses an area of 350 dunams on which a new cemetery will be built in Givat Shaul, and a part of this cemetery will be specifically designated for secular burials.

In this designated area, which will be operated by the "Menucha Nechona" organization, citizens will be able to bury their loved ones without a religious ceremony, or alternately in a Jewish ceremony that is not Orthodox. The secular cemetery will also be available for people who, according to Jewish law (Halakha), cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

In response to the approval of his plan, Lupolianski said Thursday that "Jerusalem is a pluralistic city, committed to allowing every person choose his own way of life and to choose how he is buried without anything being forced upon him in any way."

That won't play well in Meah Shearim, but then the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem had already written off Lupolianski.

Meanwhile, if you've been wanting to die in Jerusalem but haven't because of concerns over whether you would be afforded the type of burial you desire, now's your chance.

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