“There’ll Be No Discrimination in Burial”

Chevra Kadisha, the Jewish Burial Society in Israel, does not prevent, nor shall prevent in the future, a double grave for an LGBT couple. This was ensured by the Monday Society representatives and Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs at the State Control Committee.

Following a Channel 2 News report, it was revealed that the Jewish Burial Society refused to bury homosexuals in two locations in Israel. The State Control Committee held a special discussion on the subject.

Committee chairman MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid party) emphasized in the discussion on the subject that, “the shocking report revealed a phenomenon of LGBT discrimination in burial, when burial requests of the deceased were not honored like any other person’s. Although there is an explicit law, official bodies violate laws and human rights by not allowing a couple’s burial. Chevra Kadisha must respect the requests of LGBT deceased people, but if not – we must increase the enforcement and supervision.”

According to MK Elharar, “In the discussion, the guidelines were clarified, but excellent intentions of the management do not always go down to the field units”. She promised that she will continue to follow the publication of the call center of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

MK Yael German (Yesh Atid), who initiated the discussion, stressed that the LGBT community in Israel is “the most discriminated against community, legally and practically.”

“The mere fact that burial in Israel is done only by Chevra Kadisha, which is a private body – and is unwilling to sell a double grave to a married couple of the same sex, is disturbing,” German said.

Orit Masemi, vice president of the Jewish Burial Society’s Managers Forum, explained that the various Chevra Kadisha companies are non-profit organizations that are responsible for about 70% of the burials in the country – and only a few of them are associated with the local religious council. “We have not seen such a phenomenon, or cases, and the unequivocal guideline is to bury any person. We have not yet encountered a request for a double grave for an LGBT couple, but if such a request is received – it will be respected. The cases mentioned in the news article are of the burial societies of the local council, and are a minority that is not included in this discussion. ”

Efraim Omar, coordinator of burial at the Ministry of Religious Affairs Department, confirmed these words, adding that no complaint was received at the ministry, “and cases exposed in the article, in Rosh Ha’ayin and in Atlit, will be examined – and will not recur.”

Omri Kornland, the Channel 2 news reporter who exposed the phenomenon, stressed that the article showcased representatives of only three Chevra Kadisha companies, but the same answer was received from a total of seven or eight companies. “There are no complaints, because people would rather hide their orientation,” he said, and also mentioned Chevra Kadisha’s lack of approval to the request for saying “Kaddish” for a partner of the same sex.