Israeli Rabbi Urges Family Against Cremation For Rona Ramon

Prime Minister Netnayahu pays respects to the late Rona Ramon on Wednesday morning, at her coffin lying in the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv-Jaffa

R’L, albeit with good intentions, Mrs. Rona Ramon instructed her family to have her remains cremated, a move she believed would spare her surviving children and parents the pain of another funeral, as they already buried her late husband Ilan, an astronaut who was killed in the Columbia spacecraft explosion, and son Assaf, who was killed in an Israel Air Force F-16 crash.

Rabbi Yehuda Deri, the chief rabbi of Beer Sheva, sent a letter to the Ramon family urging against following her request.

At the beginning of the letter, the rabbi expressed his condolences for the bereaved family and said that her passing had caused anguish to the whole of the Jewish people. “We feel your pain and are participating in your great mourning.”

He also described Ramon’s request for cremation to spare her family more suffering as “characteristic of her nobility” but went on to say that there severe consequences in Jewish law for cremation, and which states we do not adhere to the instructions of someone who requests not to be buried, especially when the request came about only in order to prevent unnecessary suffering to family members.

“I was shocked to hear this morning in the media that the deceased, with her characteristic nobility, asked not to be buried, but to be cremated to prevent another funeral and unnecessary suffering for the family.

“I appeal to you on behalf of many of the Rabbis and rabbinic judges of Israel and in the name of large parts of the nation to reconsider this decision and express your desire to respect the deceased with the appropriate honor for her, and bring her to a Jewish burial in the soil she loved so much and sacrificed for it that which was most precious to her. And there she should rest in peace.”

He said this should also be done “for the sake of her descendants who throughout the generations will be able to unite with her memory in front of her grave and her tombstone which will be an eternal witness that they had a great matriarch amongst Israel.”

Waelier Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, paid his respects to the late Rona Ramon and passed by her coffin. Following is an excerpt from his remarks:

“I would define Rona Ramon’s life as a tragedy of Biblical proportions, but she was also a hero of the sprit, of Biblical proportions. The loss of Ilan and Asaf, her loss at a young age, these are cruel blows to a splendid family.

“But what conquered Rona’s heart was the other side of this hard coin, ad this is the way in which she stood straight up and continued to work, not only as a wife who lost her husband and as a mother who lost her son, but as a leader who mobilized both herself and others to keep working, creating and leading in cultivating excellence, genius and the abilities latent in our people, and perhaps in each one of us, and the ability to raise this ever higher.

“There was also optimism, the strength to act and stamina in her. As a mother who took under her wings not only a splendid family, but very many in the nation and the world. This commitment to action and the desire to both create an agency and tools to continue this spirit; this, perhaps, was her greatest contribution.

“She entered into all of our hearts. We will always remember you and we will always aspire to follow in your footsteps.”