A travesty was recently averted thanks to an Arab who refused to allow a childless Jew to be cremated.
The story began when a Jew, who apparently was quite alone in the world, was niftar last Friday in Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. The hospital refused to release his body for burial, saying that the Aley Shalechet association, an organization that provides irreligious funeral services, presented the deceased’s request to cremate his body after his death.
The person who was by the Jew’s side, tending to him until his last moments, was his friend, an Arab resident of east Jerusalem, who was horrified by the hospital’s intention to transfer his friend’s body to Aley Shalechet for cremation. According to the Arab, his Jewish friend was chozeir b’teshuvah at the end of his life and had requested that he be buried b’kever Yisrael according to halacha. But due to his health condition swiftly deteriorating at the end of his life, he didn’t get a chance to withdraw his request to be cremated.
Michael Gutwin, coordinator of ZAKA’s legal department continued the story: “The deceased’s Arab friend contacted the director of the Chevra Kadisha in Jerusalem, HaRav Yitzchak Gelbstein, and requested his help in bringing the Jew to kever Yisrael.”
“The director of ZAKA’s legal department, Adv. Dror Schossenheim, represented the request of the Arab as well as a relative of the deceased who was located. After much effort, including signing affidavits and presenting their opposition to the cremation, the decree was finally revoked and Aley Shalechet withdrew its request to cremate the deceased.”
This past Sunday night, a minyan of Jews from the Chevra Kadisha and the Arab friend were present at the levaya, at which the Jew was brought to kever Yisrael in full accordance with halacha.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)