A Down-to-Earth Dilemma

Siegelmania

By Stanley Siegelman

Published June 17, 2010.
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NEWS ITEM: Should gentiles be excluded from burial in Jewish communal cemeteries? The question is being debated among rabbis, some of whom complain that it’s difficult to find Jewish cemeteries that will bury intermarried congregants.


May gentiles be with Jews interred?
We all await the final word
From rabbis who seem loath to state
Opinions in this sharp debate.

How binding are their covenants
With intermarried congregants?
(This inquiry should not be shunned
Or rendered moot or moribund.)

Non-Jewish spouses who’ve expired
To Jewish ground had once aspired,
But certain cemeteries bar
Their bodies as irregular,
Denying them, with some ill-will,
In Jewish plots a burial.

Religion serves as a constraint,
Creating grounds for harsh complaint.
Defenders say a Jew’s designed
To “rest in peace” with but his kind,
Acknowledging the shibboleth:
“A Jew’s a Jew, in life and death.”

Such reasoning, to some, is sound,
While others claim the middle ground,
Proposing that we share the earth
Regardless of our creed or birth.
A free entrée would be allowed
To anyone who wears the shroud.
A Hottentot? A Huguenot?
Predicted is a thick’ning plot!

Perhaps on gravestones we should print
That kosher is the occupant?


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