Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Israel’s burial crisis and the afterlife
Far from the spotlight of peace talks and military conflicts, Israel is facing a different kind of land crisis: it is running out of space to bury its dead. Most Jewish cemeteries in major cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, are filled beyond maximum capacity. Gravestones are packed together leaving little room for mourners to gather.
You can read about a new system of multi-tiered burial chambers being used in the Jewish state to solve the issue of land. It’s actually an ancient system, used thousands of years ago by Jewish sages, that was modernised by two Israeli architects and given approval by the country’s chief rabbis.
Ancient Sanhedrin tombs and their modern-day revival
Adding to the problem of dwindling burial space for Israelis, each year about 1,500 Jews from around the world choose the Holy Land for their final resting place. For some, the choice could come from the allure of being buried in the Jewish state. For others, it stems from the Bible. And you can always find some group that offers to help make it happen.
Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said in an interview with Reuters that it is written in the Talmud — a collection of ancient Rabbinic texts — that “the earth of the Holy Land cancels all the sins of the person who passed away so he can go directly to heaven and paradise without sin”.
One of the most sought after — and expensive — cemeteries is Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, just outside the Old City walls. Many Jews pay thousands of dollars to be buried at the Mount of Olives because the Bibilical Prophet Zecharia said that the Messiah, upon arriving in Jerusalem, will first ressurect those buried there.