... and Me'
(Copyright 1970, JTA Inc.)
Spirit of Law on Burial Being Violated
Despite Court Order, NY Group Charcre
Friday, February 6, 1970-21
OUR NEW ADDRESS
25435 SOUTHFIELD RD.
NEW YORK (JTA)—Although identified, told the JTA that he
the court order stating that all attaches the blame for the lengthy
Jews have the right to be buried I strike to the cemetary owners. He
within 24 hours after death is I quotes one of them as saying:
being obeyed, the spirit of the "What's the rush. Our clients are
law is being violated, according not going anywhere."
to Hyman Dechter, counsel for
the Emergency Committee for Jew-
ISRAEL BONDS AT 20: Twenty years ago—two years after the ish Burial
establishment of the state of Israel—I was with a small group of top
New York Supreme Court Jus-
American Jewish leaders summoned by Prime Minister David Ben-
lice Harold Baer had issued the
Gurion to Jerusalem to discuss the situation of the fledgling state.
sion in response to the commit-
The situation of the infant state was at that time far from being desision
suit against striking grave- El
rosy. In fact, It was critical. Aside from being surrounded by Arab tee
military forces on the land, young Israel faced at that time a period dig
Dechter said that because of
of increasing austerity. Israeli currency was of little value outside of
the country. Bread was rationed. There were no chickens, no eggs, no cold • weather, air-hammers were 9
butter, no tomatoes, no apples. Milk was rationed and only for chit. needed to break the icy ground
dren. Meat was rationed to a few grams a week to be served primarily for burial. In most cases, he con-
, tinued, the cemeteries were not
for the Sabbath.
The country was fed at that time mostly on carp. Some kibutzim Providing people with the expen-
developedpools for breeding carp—a fish which is kosher, requires no sive pieces of equipment. He con- p I
1 arge numbers. There were ch o ppe d car p tended that if the situation be
an d mu lti p lie
dishes for breakfast, fried carp for lunch and boiled carp for dinner. comes serious enough so that bodies
There was carp on Sunday, carp on Monday carp on Tuesday and cannot be buried within 24 hours,
Wednesday, carp on Thursday, carp on Friday and Saturday supple- as required by Orthodox law,
group may have to take legal
mented by a thin slice of rationed meat on the Sabbath.
Pouring into Israel at that time were tens of thousands of immi- action.
Rabbi Samuel Schrage, chair-
grants from various countries. Most of them were remnants of Euro-
man of the committee, told the
pean Jewry liberated from Nazi camps after the fall of the Hitler
that burials now take up
regime. The newcomers also included many thousands of Jews from'
Moslem countries. All the newcomers were poor and many of them to 12 hours because of the lack
sick. The young state could not afford to build houses for them, so of necessary equipment, and that
they were sheltered in barracks and in tents and lived in slummy volunteers and family members
are working "almost around the
clock" to make sure that reli-
Added to this picture of gloom was also widespread unemployment.
People were lucky to get any kind of work. They were not choosy in gious requirements are met.
accepting jobs which were not in the line with their professions. You
The committee, which aids fam-
could see immigrant lawyers, who did not know the Hebrew language ilies concerned with burial prob-
lems, nas suggested to some fam-
combs and brushes. While the military situation on the fronts was ilies that they bury their dead in
secure; the 'economic situation looked almost hopeless. And this was Israel, "where it is presently
what the Israel government wanted top American Jewish leaders to easier to get buried than in New
York City," and to others that
see with their own eyes.
BIRTH OF AN IDEA: Landing at Lydda airport—which was at they go to non-union cemeteries in
that time very small and far from what it is today—we were met by top the Metropolitan area. The rabbi
Israeli leaders, including Zalman Shazar and Golda Meir, the present claims so far all of the Orthodox
president and prime minister of Israel, respectively. Golda led us into dead are being buried within the
"small room at the airport where we were served an "austerity" 24 limitation despite the "hard-
Dechter claimed that the attor-
We had orange juice—something of which Israel always had plenty
because of its citrus groves — and the waiters brought us omelets. ney for the cemetery owners has
indicated that there would be
"These omelets," Golda warned us before we started to eat, "are
froni , eggs. They are from imported egg-powder. We have no eggs now absolutely no cooperation forth-
in our country because we have no chickens, and we have no chickens coming as regards the use of air-
hammers, because of possible
because we have no fodder for them."
Rationed bread was brought to the table, and again Golda ex- injury to the people that would
plained that there was no white bread and dark bread was being have to operate them. The strike
rationed because flour had to be imported from abroad. "We do not of 1,700 gravediggers throughout
havufficient reserves of flour, and whatever reserves we have must the New York area began on Jan.
be Upt for the armed forces," she told us. Pointing to the pats of 12. On Jan. 20, 13 of the men,
"Mater" that came with the bread, she smiled her usual good-natured members of Local 365 of the Cem-
etery Workers and Green Attend-
smile and, indicated that this was not butter. "We cannot afford butter
wlien we need guns," she said. "We have no butter because we have ants were arrested as they tried
to prevent hearses from entering a
no milk, except for hospitals and for school children. And we have
milk, because our cows. don't give much milk now—we don't have Roman Catholic cemetery here.
sufficient fodder to feed them to give much milk." Local 365 flatly rejected a re-
The first visit we paid upon reaching Tel Aviv was to President quest made by the Emergency
Chaim Weizmann. And the story we heard from him about the economic Committee for Jewish Burial to
conditions in the country was heartbreaking. Even more outspoken provide workers to bury the Or-
was Premier David Ben-Gurion. At a closed meeting addressed by thodox dead. "We would be break-
Moshe Sharett and other members of the Israel Cabinet we heard re- ing our own strike," Sam Cimag-
ports clearly picturing the Situation in the country—not at the battle-. lia, vice presdent of the local told
fronts—as extremely grave. The country faced an economic collapse: the JTA. "We orginally agreed
austerity bordering on starvation, paralyzed agricultural development, to allow six members of the
deceased to dig the grave, if
and -practically no industry to speak a.
It was obvious that something drastic must be done to prevent , a rabbi testified as to their Ortho-
such a collapse. The aid given by American Jewry to Israel came doxy. We did not say that we
primarily through the United Jewish Appeal and it amounted to many I would provide men. This is a mis-
on tlf9 committee's
tens of millions of dollars a year. But this hardly covered the needs interpretation
of the waves of immigrants that came week after week—and in some
was imperative that in addition to
weeks, day after day—to Israel. It
Two New York undertakers
UJA funds, Israel should secure other funds from American Jewry
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there had been a sharp upsurge
The idea of launching an. Israel Bond drive in the United States in such burials.
was then born.
we look A spokesman for the emergency
THE PICTURE TODAY: It looks like ancient history when
was committee, who asked not to be
back now to the "austerity" days in Israel, when the decision
taken to issue Israel Bonds for. sale in the United States, later t o
redeemed in American dollars. Today, when You can get in Israel all
the white bread you want; when meat, eggs, butter are in
when youare tempted in the bakery windows by the finest cakes; when
you have luxurious hotels serving you the best of food one can get in
any country; when unemployment is no longer felt and the thousands i
shelters—today the "austerity"
of immigrants no longer live in squalid
Situation of 20 years ago is like a bad dream long forgotten. States has
The role which the sale of Israel Bonds in the United
played in..the economy of the country will go into Israel's history
quickly changing the picture from gloom to hope, and later to unprece-
dented economic development. Israel's achievements during these 20
years—with the aid of Israel Bonds—in expanding the country's agri-
culture and in building up its industry are impressive by any standards.
Up to the end of 1969 the sale of Israel Bonds reached $1,430,000,000.
Last year alone, the Israel Bond office in the U.S. sold about $160,000,-
000, which is the largest amount sold in any year, with the exception
of 1967, the year of the Six-Day War.
Credit for the first four years of the Israel Bonds success goes to
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Henry Montor, 'who was the service,
the sales of bonds totalled about
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