Minister Margi. Official instruction on the way
Photo: Effi Sharir
Chief Rabbi Metzger. Old ruling
Photo: Guy Assayag

Exclusion of women in cemeteries to end

Religious services minister adopts ruling by Chief Rabbi Metzger stating women may give eulogies during funerals

Minister for Religious Services Yakov Margi on Tuesday adopted a halachic ruling stating that there is no reason women should not be allowed to give eulogies during funerals, despite different customs forbidding this act.


Following the decision, Religious Services Ministry Director-General Avigdor Ohana is expected to issue a memo binding all Chevra Kadisha organizations.


About two weeks ago, during the first meeting of the inter-ministerial committee for the prevention of women's exclusion, Committee Chairwoman Minister Limor Livant stated that the phenomenon must be stopped in cemeteries and that every woman should be allowed to bury and lament her loved ones.


In the next discussion, Minister Margi said he was waiting for a halachic ruling on the matter from Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and would then issue a proper instruction.


But following the public pressure, the Religious Services Ministry decided not to wait, and rely instead on an existing ruling by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.


The ruling, which was delivered a long time ago and approved by the Chief Rabbinate Council, states that although traditions banning women from giving eulogies should be maintained, the act is not forbidden from a pure halachic perspective.


The Ministry emphasized the final section of Metzger's ruling, and is likely to issue an instruction which will bind all Chevra Kadisha organizations and will serve as a condition for a getting a license for burial services.


High Court: Women may lament too

The women's funeral oration issue reached the High Court of Justice about four years ago following the death of Professor Yeshayahu Liebman, an Israel Prize laureate in political science.


When his daughter, rabbinic court pleader Rivkah Lubitch, approached the microphone at the cemetery in order to lament her father, a Chevra Kadisha representative stopped her, claiming that "in Petah Tikva women don't give eulogies."


After the Rabbinate refused to intervene in the matter, a petition was filed with the High Court, claiming that the arrangement violates freedom and human dignity, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, and seeks to impose strict religious norms on the entire public.


The judges ruled that "Chevra Kadisha will not impose gender segregation in the cemetery, and women will be allowed to lament too."


An official instruction on the matter is only being issued now, however, following the Religious Services Ministry's decision.



פרסום ראשון: 01.04.12, 15:25
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