Family feud over Holocaust survivor's remains

Legal fight over whether to give Holocaust survivor traditional funeral - or cremate him. 'Father told him how Nazis burned bodies of Jews.'

Benny Toker ,

Jewish gravestone
Jewish gravestone

The daughters of a Holocaust survivor from Tel Aviv who died a few days ago wanted to cremate his remains. However, the man's son, who had become religious, succeeded in obtaining a court order preventing the cremation after turning to the ZAKA organization for help.

ZAKA, which conducts search and rescue operations after terror attacks and natural disasters, also handles the remains of victims, ensuring they receive proper burial in keeping with Jewish tradition. ZAKA volunteers often undertake the painstaking task of collecting all the remains of bombing victims following attacks.

Michael Gutwin, coordinator of ZAKA's legal department, told Arutz Sheva: "The incident began last Monday when the man died and his three daughters claimed that the father wanted to have his body cremated. The son, who had become religious, turned to us and an injunction was issued against the cremation."

After Judge Shmuel Bar Yosef of the Magistrate's Court issued the injunction, the hearing at the Family Court in Tel Aviv continued with Judge Esther Zitnicki Krakover. Gutwin said: "At a hearing on Thursday, it became clear that the matter was not written in the will, and according to the daughters' argument, the father expressed his desire to be burned orally."

"The son, on the other hand, stated that the father of the Holocaust survivor had always told him in shock that the Nazis burned the bodies of Jews in the crematorium and that he did not want to be cremated." The son claimed that the father was very organized and if this was his wish he would have written it in his will."

Gutwin said that the sisters finally informed the court that they had retreated from their intention to burn their father's body, "They sent a compromise agreement that the body would be buried as the son wanted and that he continue to handle the burial."

Gutwin hopes that the Knesset will enact an explicit law that will prohibit cremation in the State of Israel and will prevent discussion of the unfortunate phenomenon in advance.

ZAKA and burial society representative Nir Elmaliach, who participated in the discussion, added in a conversation with Arutz Sheva that burning the deceased's body would have been a great injustice to the man. "A Holocaust survivor whose parents were burned in the Holocaust would not order to burn his body without writing it in the will. Burning the body causes damage to the soul of the deceased, and you don't sit shiva or say kaddish for them."

The Eli cremation organization said in response: "Eli has been operating for 15 years, and cremation has been discussed several times in various courts, higher than the Magistrate's Court, including the Supreme Court and the Attorney General's supportive views."

"The argument that a cremation is illegal in Israel or even violates any regulations is not true and misleading and has failed time and time again whenever the courts have discussed this.

"The case in question is a private case of family members, who internalized their personal dispute in court and finally reached a joint agreement, outside the court's court of action, which suits them. The court accepted the agreements and turned them into a decision. Eli was not part of the legal process and were not invited to be part of it. Eli's work is perfectly legal and anyone claiming anything else is liable to a libel suit."