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
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
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.