Nov 19, 2018

Interesting Psak: burial of Arab in Jewish cemetery

Recently Israel witnessed a few horrific car crashes in which many people were killed. In one of thise crashes, some Arabs were among the dead.

Of of the Arab victims of the crash, Alaa Qarash, from East Jerusalem, was refused burial in the Muslim cemetery. The reason given was because Qarash had sold property in Jerusalem to Jews. He was deemed a traitor and burial refused. This psak of the mufti was based on a 1935 psak by Haj Amin Al Husseini - the mufti went way back in the "teshuvos" for this psak. After the Al Aqsa Mosque refused entry to his body for the memorial and burial, many other mosques followed suit and refused to perform the rites for Qarash.

But the psak of the Mufti isn't what makes this interesting. It is the psak that happened as a result of that psak that is interesting.

When Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, heard about the situation with Qarash's body he issued his own psak allowing Qarash to be buried in the Jewish cemetery, in Har Hamenuchos, in a section for people without religious affiliation.

Rav Aryeh Stern explained that because the Muslims refuse to bury him we need to do what we can to fix this miscarriage of justice and the shame he and his family was put through after he was willing to sell land to Jews. A righteous gentile should be treated positively. In this case Qarash was willing to risk his own life for the Jewish settlement.
sources: Ynet and Srugim

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  1. I thought that the section for people without religious affiliation was specifically set up for non-Jews (e.g., Olim who with a Jewish Father but are not Jewish by Halacha), so this is not a Jewish Cemetery. So I'm not sure what the Chiddush of Rav Stern is, that we should treat a non-Jew with respect and allow him to be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery? Hardly sounds groundbreaking or controversial to me, but maybe I'm missing something here.

    1. Maybe each case has to be approved. In any event, the section was *not* set up for anyone who is a member of Israel's other thirteen official religions.

  2. Agree with the Rav. Makes a lot of sense because this Arab put his life on the line by selling the land to the Jews; therefore, if there is a part of the cemetary that is reserved for non-affiliated people, it was the proper thing to do. Nothing happens by chance, maybe H' made this happen, not only for the honor of the deceased, but for his mitzvah of selling land to Jews, he is not considered as part of the sonim.


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