Civil cemetery plans spark controversy

Religious councilors say they were misled into voting for the budget.

jewish cemetary 224.88 (photo credit: Michael J. Jordan)
jewish cemetary 224.88
(photo credit: Michael J. Jordan)
Hod Hasharon has approved a special budget of NIS 1 million for the construction of a civil burial ground adjoining the existing Jewish cemetery, and the decision is arousing a storm among the city's religious residents, reports Religious councilors say they were misled into voting for the budget, and say they will vote against Mayor Hai Adiv at the coming municipal elections if the plans for a civil cemetery go ahead. According to the report, several religious councilors apparently did not realize they were voting for a civil cemetery when they approved the allocation of NIS 1 million in a special budget for cemeteries recently. The budget document stated only that the money was for cemeteries, without stating that the intention was to expand the existing cemetery and create a section for civil burials. But a municipal spokesman confirmed that the money was indeed intended for the creation of a civil cemetery, saying that recently-introduced laws require local authorities to allocate land for civil burials because of the problems faced by people who cannot be buried in Jewish cemeteries. But religious councilors vowed to fight any civil cemetery in their city. "First the Sabbath was desecrated and the status quo in this city was broken, and now the subject of a civil cemetery has arisen, and I don't know where the limits will be drawn on the harm to the religious community and to Jewish law … the religious public will not forgive the mayor for breaching understandings with them," a United Torah Judaism party official said. And a Shas councilor said he thought he had been voting for the upkeep of the existing cemetery, not for any civil cemetery. "In the near future there will be no civil cemetery in Hod Hasharon," he said.