Jewish deceased on way to Israel after embassy strike delayed burial

It is hoped that the bodies will be flown out and buried in Israel before Shabbat, since failure to do so would mean they would only be buried on Sunday, meaning a delay of as much as five days.

Signs around the Israeli Embassy in Washington (photo credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON)
Signs around the Israeli Embassy in Washington
(photo credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON)
The transfer of the bodies of nine deceased Jews – who had been scheduled to be buried in Israel but were held up due to a strike by the Foreign Affairs Ministry – is now being processed through various Israeli consulates.
The strike, which began on Wednesday, has brought all consular activities and services to a halt, including processing the necessary paperwork for the transfer of those deceased who gave instructions in their wills to be buried in Israel.
Jewish law and tradition is extremely stringent on the necessity to bury the dead as quickly as possible, and failure to do so is seen as a deep dishonor.
There are nine people who died in recent days and whose bodies are awaiting burial in Israel, six of whom were from the US, two of them Holocaust survivors.
Following efforts by the Amudim crisis center in New York, which contacted various officials including several Knesset members, and a report by The Jerusalem Post about the burial delays, the ministry permitted consular officials to perform the necessary paperwork to transport the bodies.
Adumim director Zvi Gluck told the Post that the New York consulate contacted his organization Thursday morning, informing them of the decision.
The relevant funeral directors were then able to go to the consulate to pick up the requisite papers.
It is hoped that the bodies will be flown out and buried in Israel before Shabbat, since failure to do so would mean they could only be buried on Sunday, meaning a delay of as much as five more days.
Gluck said he has dealt with similar situations in the past as a result of Foreign Ministry strikes, but that in those incidents, consular staff processed the paperwork for the transfers of the deceased because of Jewish sensitivities over this issue.
He said that funeral directors had in the past driven to the private residences of the relevant consular official to process the transfer as quickly as possible, but in the current strike that exception has also been banned.
Gluck said the families had been “livid” and had even been considering burying their family members in the US first, and then having them exhumed and reburied in Israel at a later date due to the ongoing delay in burial.
Israel's National Labor Court on Thursday ordered the Treasury and the worker's committee representing workers of the foreign and defense ministries to negotiate for 25 days to find a way out of a long-running work dispute that led to the closure over the last two days of Israel's embassies and consulates around the world.
The strike was over the terms of reimbursement for Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry workers abroad, with the Treasury instituting new rules whereby expenses incurred by workers abroad would not be included in their global salary and taxed at a 40% rate.
During the 25-day negotiating period, the new protocol governing salaries would also be suspended. As a result, the strike was called off. The court will meet again on the issue on December 3.