Ministers and members of Knesset have reached an agreement regarding the controversial subject of Judaism and burial in the IDF.
IDF soldiers who die during service, no matter what the cause, are eligible for burial in a military cemetery. In recent years problems arose as parents of non-Jewish soldiers sought to bury their children in military cemeteries, while traditional Jewish families of fallen soldiers wished to bury their children in accordance with Jewish law, under which Jews are buried separately.
Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon (Likud Beyteinu) and MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) reached an agreement over the weekend according to which Jewish and non-Jewish soldiers will be buried in the same section of the cemetery, but in different rows.
The agreement followed a meeting Friday which included Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), Stern, and Chief IDF Rabbi Rafi Peretz. During that meeting Rabbi Peretz reportedly gave his consent to the planned new arrangement.
Ben-Dahan expressed confidence in Rabbi Peretz to ensure that IDF burials are conducted according to Jewish law (halakha).
Following the agreement MK Stern pulled a bill he had submitted that would have seen Jewish and non-Jewish soldiers buried together, with no distinctions made.
“They feel Jewish in every way,” he had argued when submitting the bill. “They came to Israel believing that they are Jewish, they also enlisted in the IDF and fell in the Israel Defense Forces – the army of the Jewish nation.”
Stern responded to the new agreement, saying, “I welcome the Defense Minister’s decision and his support on this matter. An important correction was made today to a wrong that lasted for years. I’m happy that it was corrected through agreement, with no need for legislation.”