27 May 2011

Where will you be buried?

I read this reply today. A reform rabbi is answering a question online about a Jewish person being buried in a Christian cemetery. He says, "Jewish tradition does not permit the burial of Jews and non-Jews together, as in a common cemetery. However, Jewish law is concerned with the sanctity of individual graves, not the sanctity of cemeteries (which are really just a collection of individual graves, as far as Jewish law is concerned). Therefore, a Jew could be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery according to Jewish law if there was sufficient space -- one grave width -- separating the Jewish grave from those of non-Jews. In this case, the Jewish grave legally could be considered a separate cemetery, even if it contained only one grave." The entire article is here, Burial

Of course, Moishe Rosen's yahrtzeit is this weekend, which prompted a lot of my thinking. Moishe Rosen's headstone

I worked on my funeral service, may it be decades away, this morning. And then I began reading more about the composer Felix Mendelssohn. His uncle was a banker, as was his father. Turns out that Joseph, the uncle, founded the powerful Mendelssohn Bank. He abandoned Judaism, but was still boycotted by the Nazis decades after his passing in 1848. And yet, Joseph was buried in Berlin at the famous J├╝discher Friedhof Prenzlauer Berg (Jewish cemetery). The Nazis also boycotted Felix's music and issued laws against listening or performing any Mendelssohn music.

Where will you be buried? Where will I be buried? I'd like to be buried in a Jewish place. I'd like this symbol to be put on my grave/headstone.

And yet, I want to be buried with my wife and children. Not in a crematorium. Jews died in such in the Holocaust; we shouldn't choose that for ourselves. A proper burial; a proper funeral. Where will that be?

I urge the leaders of the messianic world to join together in each continent, and find a suitable venue for the creation of a Jewish believer burial location. We need our own cemeteries.

What do you think?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bob, Good recommendation... What do you think about opening the cemetary to Gentiles who stand alongside Israel or live a Messianic lifestyle? Should a burial place for Messianic Jews also make room for Messianic Gentiles? Who would the "audience" be? Messianic believers' extended families? What do you think? Sometimes Jewish believers are buried in Jewish cemetaries, but the presiding rabbis allow no mention of their Messianic faith, even by their children, and also don't allow believers to participate in customs like putting in some dirt after the funeral. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I do not appreciate the above posted comment. Why do Gentiles have to horn in on our dilemmas? If a Native American brought up an issue about their burial places, would you insist on being buried with them? Give me a break. Leave us alone and let us work out our own issues. I guess you don't appreciate whom God created you to be. A Gentile. God does not make mistakes. Please stop trying to take over our lives.

Bob said...

Dear A2,
Both anonymouses... it's a tough issue and I'm glad to get this going. I believe Jewish believers have issues we have to sort out. Burial, marriage, bris, kosher, Shabbat, relationship with the rest of the Jewish community, and so much more. When we sort out our own burial grounds, then we can deal with 'welcome' to the Gentiles in our midst. And that's a worthy issue, but let's get first things first.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous #2,

I think you are arguing with someone else you know, not with me. I am glad to be who G-d made me to be. He knows what He's doing, and He knows some Jewish family will listen to a Messianic Gentile before they will listen to a Messianic Jew. I'm not trying to take over your life but to bless your life. I'm sorry you're feeling defensive.

Maybe I was not so clear in what I wrote... I think of Bob (and many other Jewish believers) as family...and am actually closer to many Jewish believers than I am to my own family. With Bob I share a Jewish lifestyle, a belief that G-d means what He says-- things my family thinks are foreign and strange. I'm essentially a Ruth who would not be so much at home back in Moab any longer.

I was also bringing up the question because of the many interfaith marriages at my synagogue... Jewish and Gentile believers who raise their children to be Messianic Jewish believers. How can a Messianic synagogue be for Jewish people only? Shouldn't spouses and children (and maybe parents-- whether or not both are Jewish) be allowed? With one in four Jewish people marrying Gentiles in America, the Messianic community would hopefully "practice hospitality" about allowing Gentiles to be buried there as well.

Anonymous #2, I regularly tell Gentile believing women not to set their hearts on marrying a Messianic Jewish man--- to realize there are only so many Messianic Jewish men, and Messianic Jewish women should be able to marry and date Messianic Jewish men for many reasons. It is an act of love not to "horn in" on Jewish believers.... and it definitely shows insecurity if a person is trying to "become Jewish" in order to become "more loved" (being "more loved" is not possible).

I raised some questions because Bob is full of sekhel and I am interested in his thoughts.

Again my thanks to you for speaking frankly about an issue you have encountered; my apologies to you for my clumsy wording; my question to you-- do you really want [Gentiles] to "leave [you] alone"? Does G-d know what He's doing in bringing so many Gentiles into the Messianic movement and in causing so many to reach out with the good news about Messiah and to stand with Israel (or does He not)? Your language seems a little harsh. Shalom v'chesed and Shabbat shalom, "Ruth" (Anonymous #1)

Bob said...

It would be so easy if A1 and A2 would simply sign in and then we could address each other by name, but alas, I'm dreaming.

As I'm dreaming of messianic shules and messianic day schools and messianic cemeteries. May we know these sooner than later.

Steven Zessman said...

Bob, I think a Messianic cemetary should be open to all believers.

Bob Mendelsohn said...

I agree. And now here in Australia, the Messianic section of the Woronora Cemetery is making plots available for both Jewish and non-Jewish members of the Messianic community. Hooray!