(photo credit: courtesy)
Four senior national-religious rabbis have joined an initiative promoting
“high-density” burial as a means to alleviate the increasingly problematic lack
of burial land in the country.
The initiative was launched ahead of the
traditional day of personal accounting for Burial Societies, which occurs on the
Hebrew date of Adar 7 and fell this year on Thursday, and also marks the
anniversary of the date on which Moses was born and died.
initiated last week by the Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah national-religious
organization, was endorsed by Rabbis Benny Lau, Yuval Cherlow, David Bigman and
Layered burial, Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah says, is part of
the recent and ongoing struggle for social justice, and a revolution in social
attitudes to the issue is crucial in preventing future generations being
burdened with an unaffordable amount of land being used for burial.
are several forms of highdensity burial, but the one being advanced is known as
“Sanhedrin burial,” because of its use in the past during the times of the
Sanhedrin court, and involves interring coffins within a wall in a layered
“We wish everyone to live until 120,” the petition begins, “but
when the time arrives for one of our loved ones to leave this world, we want to
encourage, if possible, that their family endeavor to bury them in a layered
According to the campaign, highdensity burial is permitted
by Jewish law and was also practiced by Jewish sages in ancient times. Layered
burial has also been approved by chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger who
say that it is totally acceptable and considered the same as more traditional
Because of the land shortage, particularly for burial plots, the
Ministry of Religious Affairs has also begun a public campaign to encourage
high-density burial, although the public has not yet warmed to the
More than 35,000 Jews die every year in Israel. At present, each
dunam (0.1 hectare) of burial land can hold 270 plots, which translates as 150
dunams of land given over to burial every year. By 2020, 1,000,000 dunams of
land will be needed for burial plots.
According to Jewish law, cremation