Religions Minister: Halakha Permits Multi-Tiered Burial

Minister Yaakov Mergi says multi-tiered cemeteries are necessary and permitted by Jewish law.

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Gil Ronen,

Mount of Olives Cemetery
Mount of Olives Cemetery
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Religions Minister Yaakov Mergi said Monday that multi-tiered or "saturated" burial is a necessary solution for the shortage in burial space in Israel's cemeteries. He insisted that the solution is in line with Jewish law, or Halakha.

Speaking at a Religions Ministry conference in the Rimonim Shalom Hotel in Jerusalem, Mergi said: "We must begin burying in a saturated way." The conference launched the Ministry's campaign for saturated burials.

"There are some who try to raise a voice and say that we are twisting Halakha, but the Chief Rabbis of the State of Israel determined that multi-tiered burial is in accordance with Halakha and they are the sovereign ones."

A few people demonstrated outside the hotel during the conference, against saturated burial which they say contravenes Halakha. The protest was headed by Rav Gedalya Axelrod of Chabad, former Head of the Rabbinical Court  in Haifa. Axelrod said the saturated burial system amounts to "burial in concrete bathtubs" and not in the earth.

The Eida Haredit also published a Torah opinion against multi-tier burial.