Firefighters at crematorium
Photo: Raanan Ben Zur

In praise of cremation

Yoram Kaniuk says Orthodox took away only place that allowed him to die in dignity

Ultra-Orthodox people burned "Aley Shalechet," Israel's first funeral home offering cremation services and aiming to return the ashes of the dead to Mother Nature. In 50 years, the land area taken up by graves in Israel will be close to two billion square meters of death and bones. We will have high mountains left, and a little desert land. All the towns and villages will become one large death field. No trees will be left. No fish. Not even gefilte fish. There will be no fields. We shall have famine.


Everyone will live on poles and eat air filled with the scent of bones. Had those who believe that their body will return to the world upon the Messiah's arrival bothered to take a good look around them right now and dig, they would discover that this entire country is one large death camp. Where do they think are all the millions who lived here and were unable to be cremated for one reason or another hiding? Because after all, even the ancient Hebrews burned the dead, not to mention those burned while still alive, or those who were stoned to death and went into the ground as powder.


The ultra-Orthodox came and took the only place in the country that allows me to die with dignity. Not long ago, because of a medical examination, I saw my own skeleton. It looked terrible. Funny maybe. A human being devoid of a human being. After my burial, this is what I would look like if I let them bury me. Why should I wait for the ants and all sorts of other terrible things that await my arrival underground?


The ultra-Orthodox make death the essential element of their lives. They do not donate organs but want to receive organ transplants. They make war on behalf of death, throw poor Jews lying inside a cloth into a hole in the ground, and the dead are not even buried in a coffin that could postpone the parasites' dinner by a few weeks. They have burned my outlet from life. Yet not only will I be dying, but everyone who reads those words will die as well. It's unpleasant. Unfair. But that's the way it is. Anyone who was born will end up dying.


They're defeating us

So here I come, and I want Aley Shalechet to cremate me. An elegant, inexpensive death. I think it's my natural right as a human being to be cremated.


I do not want a grave. I do not wish to rob two meters of the Land of Israel's soil from people who will be alive later. Who needs Zionism of the dead? A country full of living people can continue without taking away a place that is also suitable for fields and parks. I want my ashes to be buried in a place I like, by the sea perhaps, on the sand where I went through childhood, when we still believed that one day a free society will emerge here that is not a ghetto in eastern Europe or northern Africa; a civilized society that would not live by superstitions.


In the United States they have the Amish, who still live like they did hundreds of years ago. There, they serve as a sort of museum, while here they reproduce. They abuse police officers, and in this cowardly country they are allowed to swear at cops and call them Nazis, because they are the guardians of our heritage. But they are not. They only safeguard a small part of our heritage that has required a change a long time ago.


They prevent two-thirds of the Jewish people from not only donating organs to our hospitals, but also from becoming a part of us. We are not allowed to marry them, and when they talk about the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, we should remember that hundreds of thousands of these Jews were not Jewish according to Jewish law, yet died as Jews. Those who burned down the Aley Shalechet funeral home are defeating us.


Judaism is about more than those who wear Polish clothing from hundreds of years ago and hats of Cossacks in the heat of Israel, which they wish to fill up with graves. Those who have a little joie de vivre and cheerfulness, and think that Judaism is not only about laws pertaining to menstruating women and a terrible fear of homosexuals and progress, should back Aley Shalechet, even if they personally wish to be buried in a grave.


I'm struggling with my family over the issue of the gravestone they want for me and I don't. Yet ultra-Orthodox violence and vandalism must be brought under control.


פרסום ראשון: 08.23.07, 20:23
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