The desire to be buried in the Holy Land is a desire shared by Jews from every part of the world. And while this was once considered only for the very wealthy, new technology has rendered burial in Jerusalem more affordable than ever before.
The idea for the Hallowed Halls of Eternal Life (Minharot Olam) on Har Hamenuchot was originally thought of as an innovative solution for a cemetery that serves the capital city. Since there is no new land to allow it to grow, the idea was to expand underground.
Located to a depth of 165 feet, these halls are a marvel of modern engineering, fully accessible by elevators and golf carts, and featuring closed-circuit cameras, 24-hour security, and an intercom system that allow for peace of mind. WiFi and cell phone reception are available throughout the complex. Innovative thermostat technology maintains an even temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, so that funerals and memorial services can be held without concern for rain, heat or inclement weather.
The project, the first of its kind in the world, was a huge undertaking that took six years to complete. The architects and contractors were in constant consultation with rabbis to ensure that all would be in accordance with Jewish law. Indeed, the site adheres to the strictest standards and has been approved by Israel’s Chief Rabbis. The result: a tranquil and comforting space that honors the memory of those who have passed.
For all the high-tech, Rabbi Moshe Shimon, CEO of the Jerusalem Burial Society, stresses that the burial halls are actually the revival of an ancient tradition. “The first burial mentioned in the Torah was also underground, in the Cave of Machpelah,” he says. “It’s like we do today, although, obviously, they had none of today’s technology and conveniences.”
The Hallowed Halls are modern and well-lit, and adorned by a magnificent art installation created by world-renowned artist Gabriel Yvelle. Crafted painstakingly from thousands of pieces of metal and colored glass, the huge embryonic spheres symbolize the circle of life and eternal light (ner tamid).
Shimon notes that the Hallowed Halls are just one option, among many, for burial on Har Hamenuchot, where there are still plots available in different areas, including under the open sky. “While all burials are conducted according to Jewish law, the society is extremely sensitive to the needs of individual families and mourners,” he adds.
For more information see: https://hkj.org.il/landing-page/