It is a fact that while many Diaspora Jews were not able to settle in the Holy Land during their lifetime, they never relinquished the desire to be buried there. While this may seem a proposition only for the very wealthy, Jerusalem Burial Society CEO Moshe Shimon explains that this is not necessarily the case.
“There exists a very wide range of options and prices for burial on the centrally located Har Hamenuchot in Jerusalem,” he explains, “from graves under the open sky to catacombs built underground with cutting-edge technology.”
The latter is a state-of-the-art project called Hallowed Halls of Eternal Life (Minharot Olam). The first of its kind in the world, it allows for dignified burial in accordance with the strictest religious standards and is approved by Israel’s Chief Rabbis.
The Hallowed Halls has been described as “a marvel of modern engineering” and the site is fully accessible by elevators and golf carts. Closed-circuit cameras, 24-hour security, and an intercom system allow for peace of mind. WiFi and cell phone reception are available throughout the complex. Innovative thermostat technology maintains an even temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, so that funerals and memorial services can be held without concern for rain, heat or inclement weather.
As technologically innovative as the Hallowed Halls are, Rabbi Moshe Shimon, CEO of the Jerusalem Burial Society, stresses that this underground cemetery is in fact the revival of an ancient tradition. “The first burial mentioned in the Torah was done by Abraham, when he buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah,” he says. “It’s like we do today, just without the technology.”
Aside from being modern and well-lit, the Hallowed Halls are adorned by a magnificent art installation created by world-renowned artist Gabriel Yvelle. Crafted painstakingly from thousands of pieces of metal and colored glass, the huge embryonic spheres symbolize the circle of life and eternal light (ner tamid).
As the largest burial society in Jerusalem and the second-largest in all of Israel, the Jerusalem Burial Society deals with the majority of burials in the Holy City. Founded 80 years ago by a group of rabbis and other prominent public figures, the Jerusalem Burial Society’s staff is available 24/6 to assist mourners during their most difficult time. Most importantly, they take families’ individual desires and needs into consideration while remaining within the parameters of Jewish law. “We want people to know that we are there for them, with sensitivity, caring and understanding,” he said.
For more information: The Jerusalem Burial Society
This article was written in cooperation with The Jerusalem Burial Society