Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Jewish Burial for Young Conservative Convert Marred in Madrid

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.”




Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.