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Jun 12, 2012

It's Official - Women Can Eulogize

Half a year ago the Rabbanut decided to put an end to the complaints that women were told they could not eulogize their loved ones at funerals, as they were prevented to do so by the various chevra kadishas. Rabbi Metzger eventually publicized his opinion that women should not be prevented form eulogizing in situations where they desire to, as there is no clear halachic prohibition against it.

The Religious Council has finally published it's official decision this past week, in line with the previous statements, that women should not be prevented from eulogizing. The Mozatza HaDatit added to their instructions that in a situation in which there might be damage caused to the sensitivities of the family, she would require permission from the rav of the city.

The assumption seems to be that in secular and dati families, women will, or might, want to eulogize, while in haredi families women will not and families would oppose it anyway.

I would add that in the Eretz HaChayim cemetery outside of Bet Shemesh, I have been to many funerals in which I have seen women eulogize. I have never seen the chevra kadisha stop a woman or make a big deal about it. It could be because that is a private cemetery rather than a city cemetery, perhaps they are more accommodating - good customer service. The other option is that in Bet Shemesh people in general are more accommodating.. :-)

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  1. It's not clear from what you wrote - the Moatzah Datit of Beit Shemesh has issued this instruction?

  2. not Bet Shemesh. It is national from the chief rabbinate

  3. Another possibility: the Eretz HaChaim cemetery has a lot of "private" clients. It's the cemetery of choice for people from abroad who wish to be buried in Israel. Since these folks would go elsewhere if they were not accommodated, the Chevra at Eretz HaChaim has an extra incentive to be nice. 9In contrast, an Israeli that wishes to be buried outside of his hometown must pay extra, so most do not).

  4. until now the decision as to whether or not a woman could be maspid was in the hands of each local moetzet datit - which in reality meant that each local chevra kadisha made the decision (and had its own minhag). At eretz hachaim, they let.

    the decision of the rabbanut means that no moetzet datit can refuse to allow a woman to be maspid.

    Your friend Astute.

  5. Yes but can a hevra kadisha still decide what it wants to do on its own? In Jerusalem, for historical reasons there are a plethora of hevrot kadisha; each with its own minhagim and target community. The problem is that the hevra "kehilat yerushalayim" which is the hevra of default if you don't belong to another specific community has some strange and objectionable stringencies - like not letting male children go after the body (to prevent the demons from coming along as well) or women to go to the graveside at all. Are they going to allow a hesped by a woman?

  6. "that women should not be prevented from eulogizing ... [But where there] might be damage caused to the sensitivities of the family, she would require permission from the rav of the city"

    Is 'permission' also required for men? That they might damage the sensitivities of the family?
    If so, why just for women?


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