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The ESP of the
Jewish Way of Life
 
Roll your mouse over each circle to find the questions.
Ethics Spirituality Peoplehood
Click on circles for more about Jewish ESP!


Ask Gil
Dear Readers: I LOVE READING YOUR EMAIL!!!! SO, if you'd like to say something about this website, the Email of the Week column or have a different Jewish issue/question on your mind please send it in. I am always looking for emails for future columns and a book I am writing (you will remain anonymous, of course). So, please email me at GilMann@BeingJewish.org just click on the blue letters. I look forward to your emails! 

Thanks,
Gil


 

Dear Readers,

These columns began on my area of America Online, called:  Judaism Today:  Where Do I Fit?   People anonymously sent me E-Mail, and I began to choose one for a public response in my Jewish E-Mail of the Week column. The column has become quite popular and is now syndicated internationally in many Jewish papers and websites.  I hope you find they help you as you think about the Ethics, Spirituality and Peoplehood components of the Jewish way of Life.  I welcome your comments... see the end of the column.

Gil

PS  Teachers and others, feel free to copy my columns and forward them or use them as you see fit.  Please see the friendly copyright notice at the end.

DYING TO KNOW THE ANSWERS

 

Dear Gil:

Do you know if Jewish Law or Jewish thought has anything to say about the following: My husband's first wife passed away 6 years ago. When she died he reserved a plot next to her for himself. Is it appropriate for my husband to be buried next to his first wife (he was married to her for 15 years. Does that make a difference?) or next to me?

E

 

Dear Gil:

We live in a small community. We have a beautiful cemetery here with at least 3 Jewish people already buried there, but no "consecrated" ground for a Jewish area. We hope to be buried there. My husband are old enough to start thinking seriously about this. What is the Jewish law on this?

P and K

 

Dear E, P and K:

Jewish law has much to say on the subjects of death, dying and mourning. Most of these laws reveal that our sages had amazing insight into human nature and human pain. In particular, I have been impressed by our tradition's realistic attitudes about accepting the loss of a precious loved one and the emphasis placed on compassionately helping the mourners to ease back into the routine of everyday life.

Given the great amount of thought and text devoted to death, there is a relatively small amount of information about the questions you have posed. The questions are further complicated and relevant because of the prevalence of intermarriage today.

Though information is not abundant, I can provide some answers based on questions I posed to rabbis, a licensed Jewish Mortician who has participated in 6000 plus funerals over a 20 year period and also on Maurice Lamm's book: The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning.

As for the first question regarding a person whose first spouse passes away, there does not appear to be strict Jewish law on the subject, rather, tradition and custom. The tradition and custom is that usually one is buried next to ones first spouse. However there are exceptions. An exception would be if a person lived much longer with the second spouse or if the second spouse was much more "beloved." Other issues include preferences that had been expressed and whether there are children involved.

Moving to the second question about being buried amongst non-Jews, Lamm writes that Jews should be buried in a Jewish cemeteries or in a fenced area reserved for Jews. Yet clearly there are many Jews buried amongst non-Jews in cemeteries...for example in military cemeteries. Being buried among non-Jews brings up at least two issues: finding a rabbi willing to perform a service in a cemetery or section of a cemetery not specifically designated for Jews and would mourners feel comfortable grieving or praying at a grave site surrounded by religious icons from other religion (like crucifixes for example.)

While Jews are supposed to be buried along with other Jews, there is a converse problem: non-Jews are not supposed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery or Jewish section. This problem will be more and more common because of the growing phenomenon of intermarriage. Over time, I suspect we will see a number of alternative burial arrangements to address this challenge. I know of at least one Jewish cemetery that has a section created for couples who are not both Jewish.

In general, if you are interested in Jewish practices related to the subject of death, I suggest Lamm's book and also, a website with quite a bit information on this subject: http://judaism.about.com/religion/judaism/msub16d.htm

To help you further, I invite my readers to contact me at GilMann@aol.com with any further information, experience or advice that I will then forward on to you. Thanks for writing.

Gil

 


A FRIENDLY COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Copyright Gil Mann

These columns can be found at www.beingjewish.org.  Not only do I give you permissions to copy these Jewish Email columns...I HOPE YOU WILL and that you share them with others!  All I ask is that you never charge anyone for them and that you also include this little copyright notice.  Thank You!
Ask Gil
Dear Readers: I LOVE READING YOUR EMAIL!!!! SO, if you'd like to say something about this website, the Email of the Week column or have a different Jewish issue/question on your mind please send it in. I am always looking for emails for future columns and a book I am writing (you will remain anonymous, of course). So, please email me at GilMann@BeingJewish.org just click on the blue letters. I look forward to your emails! 

Thanks,
Gil

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