Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Shevat 5761 - Febuary 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Ancient Bones Buried in Old Cemetery in Haifa
by Aryeh Zisman

At a massive levaya on erev Shabbos, parshas Beshalach, bones that had been removed last week from the Haifa graves of our ancients were brought to burial. The Haifa chareidi rabbonim called upon the public to participate in the burial following the archaeologists' nefarious acts of grave desecration.

Rabbonim and activists have waged a drawn out battle against desecration of these graves. The battle culminated last week when burial caves were defiled during the excavation of an underground tunnel, as reported in last week's issue. At the intervention of UTJ MK Rabbi Gafni and UTJ representatives in the Haifa City Council, however, further damage to additional burial caves was averted.

Residents of Haifa were called upon to participate in burial of the bones of the deceased in announcements circulated throughout the city. The words of the Shut Divrei Chaim, Yoreh De'ah on the issue of desecration of the dead were quoted, "For the sins of the living, the dead are unearthed." The announcements said that city residents were obligated to honor the deceased and assist the burial of the ancients' bones.

Heading the levaya were HaRav Michael Shmuel Bleicher, HaRav Yosef Yechiel HaLevi Bamberger, HaRav Menachem Hager, HaRav Shneiur Zalman Kloft, HaRav Refoel Markowitz, HaRav Meir Dov Rechnitzer, HaRav Alter Chaim Roth and HaRav Dovid Shlomo Zoldan.

From the time that the bones had been unearthed last week they had been just lying in bags, in a completely inappropriate manner. Upon learning of this, city rabbonim made all-out efforts to find a suitable burial site for the bones. Surprisingly, the Religious Affairs Ministry could not find any alternate burial site. As a result rabbonim and activists set out to find a site. Until a burial site could be found, many avreichim came to the excavation site and did all in their power to prevent the bags from being scattered and to curb the desecration of the bones within them.

UTJ representative Rabbi Aryeh Blitental helped arrange a meeting between the rabbonim and the regional archaeologist. The later said that he would do his utmost to find a suitable place near the excavations for burial of the bones. Director of the Chevra Kadisha Benny Hesse helped to locate the site. A place was found in the old cemetery where the Tana Rav Avdimi demin Haifa is buried. The Haifa Chevra Kadisha handled the technical side of the burial, when at last scores of bags were buried in a space created between the wall and the new road. The director of the Chevra Kadisha announced that the Chevra Kadisha would place a large sign on the site, indicating that bones of the ancients are buried there.

City rabbonim praised the UTJ representatives for having remained on guard throughout the entire operation, as well as for their help in prevention of desecration of the graves and ultimately finding -- along with the Chevra Kadisha -- an alternate burial site.


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