Berlin seeks law change on buri­als

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY TOBY AX­EL­ROD

BERLIN’S JEWISH com­mu­nity is try­ing to change a long­stand­ing state law ban­ning buri­als within 48 hours af­ter death.

Ye­huda Te­ich­tal, a Berlin rabbi and founder of the city’s Chabad cen­tre, and Ben­sion Braun, head of the Berlin Jewish com­mu­nity’s re­li­gious depart­ment, have lob­bied govern­ment of­fi­cials in re­cent months to al­low buri­als to take place within the 24-hour dead­line re­quired by Jewish law.

Rabbi Te­ich­tal said he had been work­ing on this for the past two years and met Berlin State Sec­re­tary for Health Emine Demir­büken-Weg­ner this spring.

He said the de­lay reg­u­larly causes prob­lems for Berlin’s rel­a­tively large Jewish com­mu­nity, of­fi­cially about 9,000-strong, but num­ber­ing 20,000 ac­cord­ing to some es­ti­mates.

While laws dif­fer in Ger­many’s 16 states, most of them have a 48-hour burial wait time. Most also re­quire burial in a cof­fin, which goes against Mus­lim law. How­ever, ac­com­mo­da­tions re­port­edly are un­of­fi­cially made for both Jews and Mus­lims.

A Berlin se­nate spokesper­son con­firmed that dis­cus­sions were on­go­ing. She said the state law was mod­i­fied in 2010 to recog­nise the needs of mi­nor­ity reli­gions, but that in gen­eral “ac­cord­ing to mod­ern Chris­tian tra­di­tion there is no need to bury quickly”.

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