Rabbi´s Funeral Was Almost Blocked

The construction freeze in Yesha [Judea, Samaria and Gaza] apparently includes cemeteries as well. <BR><br/>

, | updated: 16:28

This past Monday, when the residents of Kokhav Yaakov, just north of Jerusalem, prepared for the funeral of their spiritual leader Rabbi Tzion Weizman, the Civil Administration informed the town leaders that the funeral could not go on as planned. Brig.-Gen. Ilan Paz said that the proper permits to bury the rabbi in that particular place had not been obtained. Paz has often been accused by Yesha Council leaders of harboring a "hatred" for the Jewish residents of Yesha.

Rabbi Weizman, who was one of Kokhav Yaakov's first residents and served as its rabbi for close to 20 years, died on Monday after a long illness. Kokhav Yaakov does not have its own cemetery, but the rabbi asked to be buried in the location that the town had reserved for such, just below the town's outlying houses.

Gen. Paz even sent several soldiers to try to prevent the burial. However, Binyamin Regional Council head Pinchas Wallerstein informed them that the grave had already been prepared and that attempts to stop the funeral would lead to "stormy reactions" on the part of nearly 1,000 mourners. Wallerstein then phoned Central Command Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, who decided to overrule Paz and to allow the funeral to proceed.

A spokesperson for the Civil Administration confirmed that Paz had tried to block the funeral, but said that there was no intention to cause a disturbance, and that the burial site is on privately-owned Arab land. Yoel Sabag, the town's "mayor," said that the area is "one and a half or two meters outside what should be our fence, but in any event, this is the area that the Regional Council allocated to us for our cemetery."

Sabag noted that Rabbi Weizman had initiated a course of study in which Jews of all types participated, called "Bridging and Mediating." Sabag said, "I once asked him why, with all his communal and teaching responsibilities, he felt it so necessary to teach this course and organize it and find funding... He said, 'Our job in the world is to bring peace. If I can lead to a situation in which people can go out and mediate, even informally, disputes between neighbors or spouses, then I will have done my job.'" Sabag continued, "I can testify that after I took the course, my entire approach to people is different – more calm and more accepting, and when someone talks in a sharp or abrasive manner, it doesn't faze me, as I can see beyond it..."

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