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Poor Jews Need Not Apply

From: Scott Yollis
Date: 2/14/13

POOR JEWS NEED NOT APPLY

 

While I was attempting to make arrangements at a prominent Jewish Cemetery, I read through a long list of Jewish funeral traditions, including explanations for many of the rules our religion has to avoid humiliating Jews who canít afford lavish internments. I was proud of how far our religion goes to make sure our deceased are never humiliated by their familiesí lack of wealth. Immediately after that I met with Cemetery sales staff and realized that Jewish Cemeteryís have become so expensive that poor Jews canít afford them.

The Hypocrisy was devastating, but now I understand why so many Jews arenít interned properly. Where I live the cost to intern one loved one in a Jewish Cemetery could feed a family of 5 for a year. I find it hard to believe that none of our prominent religious leaders have fought to put an end to this travesty.

Of course the staff still put on quite a sales show, and part of that was trying to guilt me into being a good Jew by giving them lots of money so that my loved one could be interned in accordance with Jewish tradition. Even with the guilt I found myself questioning the high costs, and they were more than happy to present me with itemized options.

Some of the costs canít be explained in any rational way, and in their defense, the sales folks told me the magnitude of those expenses baffled them too. If youíre doing a second internment with cremated remains, they demand over $3,000 just for the privilege of being allowed to add ashes to the existing grave, so by the time you finish adding up all the other costs, you quickly find yourself approaching $6,000. If the $3,000 cost for the privilege of being allowed to add to an existing grave doesnít make sense, then why is it there, and why donít our religious leaders shame them into abolishing it?

Jewish traditions say we shouldnít be burying our dead with jewelry or decorating their grave sites with fancy trimmings, because it might offend those who canít afford to do so too, so why isnít our Jewish community taking a stand against this industry for extorting money from middle income Jews and completely denying poorer Jews the right to be buried in accordance with our traditions?

This goes way beyond catering to the rich, Jewish cemeteries are denying the less affluent in our own community, one of the most basic rights our religion seeks to instill by itís teachings. No Jew should be denied the right to be interned in full accordance of Jewish law, simply because they donít have enough extra money.

Scott Yollis

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