Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon and Hatnua MK Elazar Stern have reached an
agreement regarding the burial of fallen soldiers of Jewish descent but who are
nevertheless not Jewish according to Jewish law.
Stern had introduced a
law whereby fallen soldiers of Jewish descent would be buried directly alongside
fallen Jewish soldiers, something that is generally prohibited by Jewish
There are approximately 330,000 citizens from the former Soviet
Union who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return, which requires a person
to have one Jewish grandparent. However, according to Halacha, a person is only
Jewish if he is born to a Jewish mother.
Fallen soldiers from this sector
of the population have until now been buried in the same section of military
cemeteries but not in the same plot as their fallen Jewish
Fallen soldiers from non-Jewish communities, such as Druze,
Beduin and Christian soldiers, are generally buried in cemeteries belonging to
their community at the request of their families.
Deputy Minister for
Religious Services Eli Ben-Dahan and other religious factions in the Knesset
opposed Stern’s bill, but a compromise has been worked out with the army in
which fallen soldiers of Jewish descent will be buried in the same plot within
military cemeteries although not in the same row.
Stern withdrew his bill
following the agreement.
“I welcome the decision of the minister of
defense and his support on the matter,” said Stern following the
“An important and just correction has been made to a problem
that has existed for many years and I’m happy that this has been done without
the need for legislation since the purpose of the bill was always to bring about
a more respectful and uniting situation.”