The burial system in Israel is currently undergoing dramatic changes, primarily due to the significant shortage of available burial space. In addition, burial in Israel is controlled to a large extent by the Chief Rabbinate, introducing religious complexities to the process. This often results in a stressful process during a very emotional time of people’s lives.
Most Israelis are simply unaware of their basic rights in this area such as the right to free burial in an individual’s place of dwelling or the right to civil alternatives to the traditional Jewish burial (since legislation was enacted in 1996). This can lead to unscrupulous individuals or organizations taking advantage of the bereaved family. For example, until revelations made public by ITIM, bereaved families were being directed to for profit organizations operating within the confines of Israeli hospitals, in violation of the law.
The responsibility of informing the families of the deceased about their burial rights falls upon social workers and other personnel in medical facilities who all too often are themselves not sufficiently well versed in the contemporary issues and procedures – both Jewish and civil – related to death and burial. Professionals of such medical facilities need to undergo comprehensive training so that they can pass along accurate information and assist bereaved families at a time when they are most vulnerable. In addition, the burial societies that deal with bereaved families often lack the time and resources necessary to adequately direct these bereaved families. Families who contact the burial societies should receive materials that address all their questions.
Our bereavement training program educate and train staff members in medical facilities across the country so that they can pass along accurate information and assist bereaved families at a time when they are most vulnerable.
Because of ITIM’s vast information and advocacy programs, ITIM is in a singular position to leverage its services to enable hundreds of professionals to serve bereaved families in a significant manner.
Staff members of ITIMl lead comprehensive sessions in Hebrew regarding death, burial and mourning for staff. The sessions – which will incorporate multimedia tools – educate the medical professionals in the historical background of burial and death, the practical realities, and the psychological challenges facing bereaved families. The participants learn about the laws and practices of burial in Israel for traditional Jewish burials, other religious burials, and civil burials.