Jewish Burial for Young Conservative Convert Marred in Madrid

By JTA

Published December 15, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A 13-year-old boy was buried in a special section in Madrid’s Jewish cemetery because he had a Conservative conversion.

Gai Ben-David died last weekend after suffering for years from brain cancer. He was buried Sunday in a section of Madrid’s Jewish cemetery set off by a row of trees and reserved for those whose Jewishness is in question.

Israel’s chief Sephardi rabbi, Shlomo Amar, ruled that since Gai had a non-Jewish mother and was converted by a Conservative rabbi that he should not be buried in the main cemetery. Amar had been asked to rule on the issue by Rabbi Moshe Ben-Dahan, the chief Orthodox rabbi of Madrid.

Gai, of Bogota, Colombia, celebrated his bar mitzvah last June at Congregation Ahavath Shalom in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the worldwide association of Conservative and Masorti rabbis, said in a statement that “We are dismayed that this exemplary Jewish boy … was not permitted a burial in the main section of Madrid’s Jewish cemetery, as Rabbi Amar erroneously declared his halachic conversion to be insufficient to bury him where he belongs.

“In Gai’s memory, we remind ourselves that the Jewish People are one people bound together by common history and practice. We therefore not only take great offense at Rabbi Amar’s incorrect and inhumane interpretation of Jewish law, we also abhor this misuse of power that has increased the suffering of a Jewish family grieving the loss of a child.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.