Women are not allowed to attend funerals held at the cemetery of the Yemenite community of Elyakhin in the northern Sharon area, Ynet has learned Sunday.
"It is customary here that women do not escort the dead inside the cemetery," said Motti Avdiel, a Chevra Kadisha volunteer at the place. "The first part of the funeral takes place at an open square located near a roofed area. During the eulogies the women are asked to stand outside, while the men stand under the roof.
"When the funeral proceeds towards the grave the women are forbidden from approaching the grave; a woman can't escort her husband… only after the men leave, the women are allowed to approach the grave," he explained.
According to Avdiel, who objects to this prohibition, the custom is not based on a halachic ruling, but rather on social norms.
And the public accepts this?
"The women in Elyakhin have not raised their voice against this discrimination. I'm personally bothered by this; I have a different opinion. It's inconceivable that a woman be banned from entering a cemetery and participating at a funeral," Avdiel stated.
According to one local resident, Mordechai, who recently attended the funeral of a close family member at the cemetery, some of the participants tried to prevent one of the granddaughters of the deceased from making a eulogy, saying that it was against local custom.
Avdiel said that he had conducted research on the issue of Jewish bereavement customs and found that according to Jewish law women are allowed to enter a cemetery. "The only restriction has to do with modesty, and this can be resolved by separating between the men and the women."
Elyakhin's chief rabbi Haim Adni confirmed the details of the report to Ynet and stated: "Women do not escort the dead into the cemetery because this if forbidden. According to Chazal (the Sages of Blessed Memory), Satan accuses us when he sees men looking at women. This is a grave accusation that carries a severe punishment."