Planning body advances plan to solve TA area's grave problems

Central District plannin

tel aviv cemetery 88 (photo credit: )
tel aviv cemetery 88
(photo credit: )
The Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which stretches from Ashdod in the South to Netanya in the North, is home to roughly three million people and produces 30% of the country's corpses. The area has long suffered from a shortage of graves for the 20,000 people who pass away there every year. Thus, the Central District Planning Commission recommended on Monday eight sites for the future development of cemeteries to help solve the shortage of burial grounds in the Tel Aviv metropolitan region. The commission's recommendations call for the approval by the national planning committee of 1,540 dunams, to add to the 2,553 dunams of burial grounds already in the region. The suggested new burial sites are spread out across the region. Some are extensions of existing cemeteries and some are in places zoned for this particular purpose. The largest site being planned is called Ganei Ad, which will be located half an hour east of Tel Aviv, near Route 6 and the town of Bareket. Spread over 560 dunams, Ganei Ad is to hold 400,000 graves and provide the area's main burial solution for the next 50 years. North of the city, the plans call for new cemeteries to be developed in Netanya, Ga'ash, the Binyamin industrial zone and next to the Israeli Military Industries facility in the Sharon. In the South, the recommendations are for a cemetery west of Yavne. To the east, the plans call for the development of a cemetery south of Yehud and, once Ganei Ad reaches 85% of capacity, additional sites near Modi'in and south of Or Yehuda. The committee also considered, but rejected, a site near the Sorek River and another near the town of Givat Brenner. The grave shortfall was raised by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss in a 2008 report. The planning committee also addressed the issue of layered, or high-density, burial, saying it recommended increasing the areas designated to such burials once existing sites reach 60% occupancy. High-density burial, which is permitted by Halacha, is seen as one of the main solutions to the burial-ground shortage. A special interministerial committee was established in 2003 for the purpose of promoting the practice. The current burial method allows for roughly 250 graves per dunam. Layered burial would allow up to four times that many graves, saving space and reducing costs. In February, the Religious Services Ministry offered a NIS 2,000 subsidy for every high-density grave built. Another practice that has been adopted of late is burying loved ones in private cemeteries belonging to kibbutzim. This has become particularly popular among those who do not want an Orthodox funeral service. Many kibbutzim use land adjacent to the kibbutz to bury kibbutz members and their families. In recent years, they have also agreed to bury non-members in exchange for substantial sums, a practice frowned on by the Religious Services Ministry.