Photo: Meir Fartush
The Haifa District Court on Monday permitted a family from Zichron Yaacov to cremate the body of their 14-year old daughter, who committed suicide during the weekend. The issue came to the court's attention due to an appeal from ZAKA Rescue Services and Chevra Kadisha, who demanded to prohibit the cremation. The court's decision has raised objections from the religious community.
The 14-year old hanged herself in the family's yard, and the mother requested cremation on the claim that this would release her daughter's soul from her body. However Chevra Kadisha representatives in Zichron Yaacov objected to the request, and turned to Chezki Farkash, one of the heads of ZAKA Rescue Services' Haifa branch, for assistance. Farkash appealed to the court and was granted a warrant for postponement of the cremation.
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During the hearing held by Deputy President of the Haifa District Court, Judge Gideon Ginat, the State claimed that the prosecution had no right to appeal to the court, as they did not constitute a side in the issue. Chevra Kadisha, however, claimed that they had the right to engage themselves in any case involving a deceased person.
Judge Ginat determined that the court had no right to interfere in the issue, as the family of the deceased supported the mother's cause, but delayed the cremation in order to allow ZAKA time to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Respect for the dead
The mother of the deceased exhibited anger at the appeal. "They are behaving like vultures," she said. "Why should I be in court instead of grieving for my daughter? They talk about respect for the dead and the wishes of the deceased, but the girl is dead and no one can know her wishes. I'm her mother, and I should be the one to make this decision."
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai slammed the decision. "The court, which holds respect for humanity in its hands, is trampling the rights of the deceased," the Shas chairman said. "In order to abstain from involvement in the case, the court has actually involved itself in issues of Jewish identity. This is a disgraceful attempt at defending the norms of the goyim (non-Jewish people)."
Yishai directed Minister of Religious Affairs Yitzhak Cohen to convene an assembly on the matter, in order to proceed in making what he termed "these crazy deeds" illegal. He also promised to defend a bill prohibiting cremation.