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Why are Jewish dead flown to Israel for burials?
The coffins containing the bodies of the victims of the French shooting arrive at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.
March 21st, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Why are Jewish dead flown to Israel for burials?

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) – The four victims of Monday’s shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, were buried Wednesday morning – not in their home community but, after an overnight flight from Paris, in Jerusalem.

Though two of the young victims were born in Israel, the Consistory of Paris, which represents Jewish communities, told CNN that all the victims were being buried there for reasons of faith, not nationality. Being laid to rest in Israel, the birthplace of Judaism, ensures that their remains will not be tampered with, the group said. It also added that 40% of practicing French Jews are buried in Israel.

French religious Jews aren’t alone in wanting this, and the reasons run deep.

“It goes all the way back to the Bible, when Jacob passed away,” explains Rabbi Shaul Ginsberg, who oversees Shomrei Hachomos, an Orthodox funeral chapel in Brooklyn – which he says is one of three Orthodox funeral homes in New York state.

Before Jacob passed away, Ginsberg says, “One of the things he said to Joseph is, ‘Don’t leave me in Egypt.’”

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He wanted to join those who had died before him, including his grandfather, Abraham, who received the first Jewish burial, Ginsberg says.

In the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 47:28-30 reads:

And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred forty and seven years.

And the time drew near that Israel [Jacob] must die; and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him: "If now I have found favour in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt.

But when I sleep with my fathers, thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place." And he said: "I will do as thou hast said."

Jacob would be buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs, known by Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham, in what’s now the West Bank city of Hebron.

Another incentive to be buried in Israel extends beyond the Bible - and beyond concerns, for some, about grave desecration. It’s rooted in the belief that when the Messiah comes, those buried in Jerusalem will be resurrected first.

Jews do believe that a figure will emerge to restore peace, save the righteous and judge those who've done wrong. But the Jewish concept of a Messiah is very different from Christianity's view. Christians believe the Messiah already came, in the divine form of Jesus Christ. Jews do not believe this. In fact, they don't believe that the Messiah will be divine - since God, from their perspective, cannot become human.

When the Messiah comes, Judaism teaches, he will shepherd in what's referred to as the "World to Come." There will be peace, no more evil and the reinstatement of the Temple in Jerusalem. And, apropos of this story, all Jews will return to Israel.

The significance of being buried in Israel is one Ginsberg both respects and anticipates for himself. He purchased his plot in Jerusalem years ago and says 60% of those he serves are being flown to Israel for burial.

That choice doesn’t come cheap.

When Ginsberg bought his plot in 2000, it cost him $4,500. But lack of land, demand and simple economics have changed things. The plot next to his, he says, recently sold for $25,000.

Granted, one can choose to be buried outside of Jerusalem at better rates. But once the cost for the flight over is factored in, the price is still steep.

For the majority of Jews outside Israel (and even within Israel) who are not ultra-religious, burial considerations are likely not driven by what Jacob said to Joseph or by thoughts of a potential Messiah. These motivations, in fact, are probably foreign to many of them.

Even so, for very observant Jews, and even for some others who are not Orthodox, the expense of an Israel burial – if they can afford it – may be worth it, says David Zinner, the executive director of K’vod v’Nichum, an organization that provides education and resources about traditional Jewish funerals and burials.

One page on the organization's website is dedicated to burial in Israel, offering tips, links to articles and cemetery options.

Yet Zinner, who works with Jews of all denominations, also points to passages in the Talmud where Rabban Gamliel, a first century authority, argued against expensive burials. Zinner says Gamliel feared high prices deterred people from upholding traditions. To this day, Jews are traditionally not buried in fancy caskets.

By extension, Zinner says, there are many who argue that splurging for a burial in Israel makes little sense.

“Money is to help the living, to give to charity,” Zinner says, summarizing that school of thought.

As for those who are buried outside of Israel, Ginsberg says, the resurrection, when it comes, will not be lost on them. The process will just be more arduous and definitely less comfortable.

Tunnels will be created underground leading to Israel, he says, “and their bones will roll into Israel.”

Those already buried there “will save themselves that pain.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Israel • Jerusalem • Judaism

soundoff (396 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    Check link;

    http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/the-salafist-equation-1.996976

    March 29, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  2. Cedric

    So that's where the 1% will be buried.

    March 26, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  3. BelgianWoman

    A burial in Israel "ensures that their remains will not be tampered with"???? Do they really expect the French to "tamper" with the bodies? If I were French, I would consider that an insult. And do they REALLY believe that the bones of the people who were not buried in Israel will we rolled into Israel through tunnels? Who will create those underground tunnels? Or are they already there? Funny people!

    March 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • commonsense

      It's not meant to insult the French. But anyone that is even somewhat aware of anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe knows that even to this day desecration of Jewish cemeteries is sadly a common occurence. Who are you to judge these people for wanting to ensure that their relatives truly rest in peace? After what they went through in their final moments on this earth, they at least deserve that much and you should respect their wish.

      March 26, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • IsraelJudah

      Please have a little bit of respect for what we find important. I'm sure that there are things in your believes that will appear funny to others who don't believe as you do.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  4. DARKMATTER

    the land of israel is the type of scanner or xerox copy to copying the body of the dead person,,to give another life again by using of blows of the gravity came from the deeper of the land like the case of maria ,,why jesus born without father by the commanding to the gene to create a stem cell inside the body of maria because god are gravity or pulsar

    March 25, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  5. Henry Tobias

    Better to live here than to be buried here

    March 24, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  6. Keith

    A corpse is just a corpse. It has no use after its time of expiration has come and past. The corpse can neither hear nor respond to speech when spoken to it. The bible calls that divination, so you do yourself justice to refrain from doing so if you are inclined to do so, for what would you do if the corpse actually got up and spoke back to you? You think Usain Bolt is quick, wait til that corpse talks back to you, then you will know the meaning of speed. The bible declares that it is appointed a time for a man (and woman), to die (or expire) in human flesh once, then comes judgment (Heb 9:27). The bible also says that we all can chose to live in sin, and abide by our own counsel, but know thou, that thou is you, that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgement (Ecc 11:9). So, weather you are a jew or genitle, buried in Israel, or Islip, NY, the place of your burial means nothing to God, but if it be a matter of tradition then there is no harm in continuing therein. But how you lived your life, in the sight of God and His word, that my friend, is everything, and will affect your life after you die, because there is a life to come after you die as the word of God says. We all shall be judged by God on a day appointed and shall give a complete account of our works, good or bad, before him, and be rewarded for them ( 2 Cor 5:10,Rev 20:11-15). Salvation can only be obtained while you live at this time and take advantage of it. You harden your heart to it or flat out reject it as many have, and die in like manner as many have, the lake of fire shall be your reality. And weather you disagree with it or not or anything else i said, God's word says, it is of no consequence, for His counsel shall always stand (Romans 3:3, Isaiah 46:10). So, in essence, its not when you die, or where you are physically buried, jew or not, but how did you die? Do you have the same testimony that Enoch had before he died? (Heb 11:5). Or, the testimony of the Rich man (Luke 16:19-31), whose temporarily dwelling place can be seen in verse 23 of that same chapter. Selah, or think upon these things. Salvation made simple: Acts 2:38 + James 1:22. Die without salvation, then the saying shall truely come to pass, as it has been spoken time and time again, "Houston we have a problem". Here's my email: warfarespiritforgod@gmail.com. Message me and lets talk about JESUS name salvation, the new you!

    March 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  7. xesor

    Are you all eating what Jesus ate? Here: jesuschristdiet . C0M
    Some good recipes.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  8. Cville

    This is why I'm an atheist. I mean, quit sweaten the small stuff. You live, pay taxes then die. Who GAF where you're burried?

    March 23, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  9. Mike

    because it will give Israel more reason that they can't give up Palestinian land, now that the bodies are buried they have created nee obstacles.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      *rolls eyes*
      Yeah..that's it.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • William Wilberforce

      Much of the world seems to want the Palestinians to have a state of their own. Of all the supporters,though,one stands out as being especially intriguing : the Roman Catholic church. Can you name a time in history when the Vatican sincerely endorsed Muslim control of Jerusalem? The fact is never . In the first crusade alone, Catholic crusaders slaughtered some 70K Jews and Arabs to pry Jerusalem from the infidel. So why is it doing so now? The truth is,it is not! There are two reasons the Catholic church for now is making it appear it supports a Palestinian state. First,this effort undermines Israel's control over the city. When if comes to diminishing Israel's grip on Jerusalem and its holy sites, Catholic officials are happy to let the Palestinians do the dirty work. Second, the Vatican's endorsement of Palestinian statehood provides ideal cover for its own ambition to wrest control of Jerusalem from the Jews.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  10. William Wilberforce

    Right now Israel is secure its got good leadership mostly man of war who are not afraid of using force if necessary . Also they have the might to burn down to Ashes most of their enemies and the Arab league knows it that's the reason of their anger and frustration . But in a few years when new leadership arrives lot of things gonna change . Bible prophecy says that weak leadership is gonna bring a nightmare to Israel, the U.K and the U.S. And also says that when that happens the Europeans led by the Vatican will take over Jerusalem denying Muslim access to it and the confrontation will begin deterring some sort of modern crusade. So as you see my Arab friends your real problems are not too far just a few decades I think. Good Luck!

    March 23, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  11. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    March 23, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things"

      ~`You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!~`

      March 23, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  12. MC

    with so many antisemites out there you still ask why the french jews were buried in israel. may they rest in peace.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  13. Muneef

    I think religion is comforting. Allah comforts me just like he comforted his 9 year old wife. I need a blanket or something warm to comfort me.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • ???

      Blanket as in MJ's son?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hmm another Con uses people screen names... Any way that's not me lady's and Gentelmen... Nor at my age I thought to marry any additional wife at this early age...although not seriously thinking of marrying above my existing wife but would rather prefer age between 19-25 as a second wife and I would not mind marrying a religious Christian or Jewish female, besides I love all colors & Races of GOD and therefore would not mind a female of any color or race as long as she is faithful to GOD and would be faithful & trustworthy to me...

      March 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      Any way Mr.Con Allah (GOD) did not marry nor he ever married or ever had a female partner... It was our Prophet &Messanger of GOD who had adopted a 9 years female as his future wife...

      March 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Jesus

      – ~You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  15. Anon

    Israel is the birthplace of the three desert blood cults of insanity.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      No it isn't.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:02 am |
  16. aristokatz

    Some of you are forgetting that this children and their father were tragic victims of a hate crime. It is not unique to this situation and time that Jews were masiqured in Europe. Perhaps this family wants ths security in death that they could not get in life; the ability to rest in peace.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  17. Muneef

    They are the chosen race and every other race on earth is a filth for which they were chosen to clean out...!? Is that so otherwise tell me for what purpose they were considered chosen among all other living races? Wonder why GOD created other races and him self did not terminate them leaving it to the chosen people to do so? It is not clear if any of the other races decide to convert would be accepted as one of the chosen people ? Although understand many converts or minorities of the same religion are not accepted to be buried in certain burial grounds of the chosen one's ...!? Racial issues among the one religion...that's all about it... The race is stronger than the religion...

    March 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Being chosen doesn't mean superior. That is a common misconception.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Being chosen doesn't mean superior. That is a common misconception."

      But being "God's chosen people" does mean superior, unless you think they are only "god's chosen people" with a small "g"...

      March 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Thinker23

      When we choose a drill over a hammer to make a round hole it does not mean that the drill is somehow "superior" over the hammer. It simply means that the drill is a better tool for this specific task. Similarly, God chose the Jewish people NOT because they were somehow "superior" over others but AS A TOOL, to bring His teachings and His moral code to the rest of the world.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thinker 123.
      Agree with you on that they were chosen as a tool to bring GOD's teachings and moral codes to the rest of the world...but that was before Christianity and Islam...so the matter is over now so my the superiority should remain?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Muneef

      Actually it was the word used that they were favored over other races and not superior.... They were favored by GOD and made most of the Prophets of GOD from their Race of Isaac and Jacob and down to Jesus but only then when they still gone denying and killing the Prophets and Messangers of GOD doing opposite to what they been told, that GOD has withdrawn the being favored from them and given the Prophecy and the being of Messanger of GOD to one of the race of Ismael (Muhammed) who was the last of chain of Prophets and Messangers of GOD and ever since that the Hatred has started against the Arabs for being chosen as favored to have a Prophet and Messanger of GOD from their race.
      That is the whole story and the Quran testifies to that...!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Muneef

      Not to forget that the Old Testament (Bible) has mentioned the arrival of the Comforter after Jesus and was named as Ahmed.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Muneef

      ‘Jesus predicted coming of Prophet Mohammed’ in Bible found in Turkey
      Sunday, 26 February 2012

      http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/26/197060.html

      Jesus predicted advent of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)
      Turkish minister says Vatican has asked to see the book

      http://www.emirates247.com/news/world/jesus-predicted-advent-of-prophet-mohammed-pbuh-2012-02-27-1.445391

      March 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Muneef

      I think religion is comforting. Allah comforts me like he comforted his 9 year old wife. I need a blanket or something warm to comfort me.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Godpot- No it doesn't.
      Heck...I could choose you to go and take out the trash or change some baby's dirty diaper. I doubt you would think that makes you superior...but it does make you chosen.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Muneef

      Repeat;

      Hmm another Con uses people screen names... Any way that's not me lady's and Gentelmen... Nor at my age I thought to marry any additional wife at this early age...although not seriously thinking of marrying above my existing wife but would rather prefer age between 19-25 as a second wife and I would not mind marrying a religious Christian or Jewish female, besides I love all colors & Races of GOD and therefore would not mind a female of any color or race as long as she is faithful to GOD and would be faithful & trustworthy to me...

      March 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Muneef

      Repeat;
      Any way Mr.Con Allah (GOD) did not marry nor he ever married or ever had a female partner... It was our Prophet &Messanger of GOD who had adopted a 9 years female as his future wife...

      March 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Agnim

    The Jews can uphold any ideology they want, even strange ones, provided they uphold them in their indigenous space on the Arabian Peninsula, and not invade others and imposed the ideologies on others.

    Too bad the other id1ots indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula will not further emulate the Jewish and keep their islamic insanity to themselves, instead of criminally invading others with their mind-weakening and mind-wasting religious rubbish of islam and christianity.

    After all, who imposes anything good upon others?
    The answer to this simple question alone, is proof that the Jewish ideology is going to be better than the christian karp and the islamic insanity, which have to be imposed on younger\weaker minds for them to be brainwashed into a lineage generation after generation.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  19. Bribarian

    we know the answer to this, jews are an invader and never hold allegiance to their host nation.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Umm..no, that isn't the answer. A biased guess...yes but not really an answer.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Well, it's NOT an answer. It's nothing but a hateful racist lie.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  20. William Demuth

    Cause it's illegall to litter in France?

    March 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      You are a jack@ss

      March 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.