Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Sivan 5762 - May 15, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Still No Solution for Haifa's Jaffa St.
by Y. Ariel

Chareidi community leaders in Haifa and representatives of United Torah Judaism on the Haifa City Council are warning that continued construction on Jaffa Street without building the necessary ceilings above the burial caves lying beneath the street could pose a problem of tumas kohanim.

Jaffa Street, located in the lower portion of the city, is slated to be widened from four lanes to six and to be transformed into a central artery connecting the northern and central regions of the country. Already in the British Mandate period it was reported that the street had been paved over Jewish burial caves mentioned in sifrei kadmonim, the Mount Carmel Slopes Cemetery. Several rishonim are buried there including the Tosafos Shantz.

The burial caves were discovered when the street was first paved. When underground pedestrian tunnels were dug, workers uncovered and desecrated the gravesites, launching an uproar in Haifa and across the country, including a public letter of protest written by maranan verabonon. Construction work was performed by city-owned company Yeffei Nof. All of the requests and entreaties to delay construction met firm resistance.

In recent years extensive efforts have been made to lobby for an ohel chotzetz beneath the pavement, which would allow kohanim to use the street as well. In Jerusalem, Tiberius and other cities various government ministries have agreed to fund the construction of ceilings designed to block tumoh, but in Haifa local government authorities denied the requests and laid a cement ceiling--which does not meet halachic requirements for blocking tumoh--over graves that were unearthed and desecrated.

Local rabbonim met with HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv to request guidelines for the proper construction of an ohel chotzetz. They were told that based on the din of sofeik tumoh bireshus horabim an ohel chotzetz should cover the entire street, extending to the point where it is certain there are no burial caves.

The City of Haifa has rejected this proposal and all attempts by UTJ representatives Rabbi Chaim Williger and Rabbi Aryeh Blitental to alter the plans have failed to produce positive results. Opponents are concerned over continued construction and grave robberies, which were known to take place at the caves in the past. Local activists note that the battle will resume shortly and various steps will be taken to try to ensure that the street is paved according to HaRav Eliashiv's psak din.


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