(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/TAMMY BAR-SHAY)
Beersheba’s chief rabbi Yehudah Deri has written to the family of Rona Ramon who passed away on Monday, not to abide by her wishes to cremate her body and instead have her buried in accordance with Jewish law and tradition.
Ramon left instructions that following her death her body be cremated so as to spare her family another funeral, following the untimely death of her husband and first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and their son Asaf.
Jewish law prohibits cremation and the burial of someone’s ashes in a Jewish cemetery who requested cremation, and the practice is taboo in Jewish tradition.
Writing in a letter to Ramon’s family on Wednesday, first published by the Kikar Shabbat haredi news website, Deri began be expressing his condolences for the bereaved family and said that her passing had caused anguish to the whole of the Jewish people.
He also described Ramon’s request for cremation to spare her family more suffering as “characteristic of her nobility” but went on to say that there severe consequences in Jewish law for cremation.
In light of these, he said, Jewish law states that one does not adhere to the instructions of someone who requests not to be buried, especially when the request came about only in order to prevent unnecessary suffering to family members.
“I turn to you in the name of many rabbis and rabbinic judges and in the name of large parts of the people, to reconsider this decision and to express your will to honor the deceased with the appropriate honor for her and to bring her to a Jewish cemetery in the earth of the land she loved so much, and for which she sacrificed those she loved above all else,” wrote Deri.
He said this should also be done “for the sake of her descendants who throughout the generations will be able to unite with her memory in front of her grave and her tombstone which will be an eternal witness that they had a great matriarch among Israel.”