The following article appeared on the European Jewish Press website:
The Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE), which assists more than 600 rabbis across Europe on issues of daily life, was confronted last week with this very unusual halachic question after a member of a Jewish community in Germany passed away.
The man’s last will was to be buried with his best friend, a bottle of Vodka, with which he had never parted during his lifetime.
After hearing the weird request, the Jewish community’s rabbi immediately contacted the RCE’s halachic experts in order to determine if it is permissible to place a bottle of Vodka in the grave of the man.
[The man emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 70s and was not connected to the local Jewish community. However, a good friend of him, who is a regular participant of community events and an acquaintance of the local rabbi, delivered this last message of his friend to the rabbi.]
The issue however actually raises a serious halachic dilemma.
On the one hand it is extremely important to fulfill the last wish of a Jew, but on the other hand it is unacceptable to bury any object together with the body of a deceased person.
The difficult question was then forwarded to Rabbi Yaacov Rozhe, who serves as chairman of the Zaka Rabbinical Council and as representative of Israel’s chief rabbinate in the Medical Institute of Abu Kabir.
He replied that there is no halachic prohibition of placing the bottle near the coffin but under no circumstances it may be placed in the coffin itself nor beneath it so that no object interposes between the coffin and the ground.
With the implementation of this ruling the man and the bottle passed away side by side….