Volume 12 Number 13
                       Produced: Wed Mar  9 22:00:43 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cremation (2)
         [Anonymous, Stephen Phillips]
One year programs
         [Aryeh Frimer]
Pastoral Care and Hospitals in Israel
         [David Kramer]


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 94 11:39 EDT
Subject: Cremation

Steve asked,

>I debated whether to send this anonymous or not but decided it would be
>more helpful to me not to.

[I'm interested in why Steve thought it would be more helpful to be
non-anonymous -- he's still in the question-asking stage!]

I also debated whether to reply to the list or to Steve, and then remembered
the anonymous option.  So here's what I wrote to Steve privately:

Subj:   Cremation (your m-j query)

Hi Steve, you asked in m-j V12#1, about cremation.

I also debated (not long, as you can see, I just got m-j this morning) as to
whether to answer on the list or privately.  I chickened out and am answering
privately, perhaps not the best thing but it allows me to be more frank; I'm
controversial enough on the list already and I don't feel like being flamed
over this, so.... But if you get enough material and post it to the list, fine
with me if you summarize and anonymize mine.

You are really between a rock and a hard place on this one.  My mother had
similar views, very strongly expressed.  I'm the only "frum" one in the
family, although one of my brothers was already developing leanings in that
direction when my mother died 6 years ago.  Another brother was aware of her
views on this and tried to talk her out of it on other grounds, unsuccessfully.
Since my father was the one in charge of funeral arrangements, there was
NOTHING I could do about it.  You can argue with siblings (especially when
you're the oldest) but not with your father, in the midst of the shock etc.
(She hadn't been well but it wasn't expected.)

>I discussed this with her when I visited her 2 years ago & will gently
>raise the subject this coming week (Feb 28 - Mar 9) while again visiting her.

You might try telling her how much this decision upsets you, and why.  (We
tried "We want a place to visit" (a grave) but she countered "so you'll bury
the ashes in a grave" (we did; they have a double plot; my father wants a
"regular Orthodox funeral", go figure).)  You might mention "after the
Holocaust, the idea of..." etc.

But if that doesn't work, you are stuck.  (Will you have to make these
arrangements?  If you are left with that, maybe you can get away with changing
them, but between the family pressure and the guilt at contravening her wishes,
it's not gonna be easy.)

>Rabbi Auerbach, Shlita, has told me in response to a Shaila [question]
>that I'm not ALLOWED to have kria'a [the traditional cutting of garments
>when your close relative dies], and also not Shiva'a [the seven-day
>mourning period].  I can say mourner's kaddish, grow a beard, not go to
>parties, etc, as these things are not dependent on any one particular
>person passing away [ie, anyone who wants to say kaddish - and has
>permission from their parents, if they are still alive - is able to do so].

Here's where I'd get flamed on the list -- if this answer bothers you enough,
find someone else to ask.  There has to be someone out there with a decision
you can live with.  Is this guy your regular posek or somebody you just asked
this particular question?  There is some range of views on this (for instance,
I think I heard that some say that you shouldn't say kaddish for a person who
requested to be cremated (I MAY BE MISTAKEN ABOUT THAT), and there must be some
room at the other end of that spectrum too, for people for whom it's beyond
their control what the parent has done).

Also... re the answer above... sitting on a low stool isn't a forbidden
activity, neither is people coming to visit you, are they?

In my case, the truth is that it didn't occur to me to ask.  The funeral was in
a nearby state but not near enough to where I live that my regular "chevra"
came to the funeral.  I sat shiva (such as they observed it) with the family
for the first 2 days, then went home for Shabbos and sat at home for the rest
of it.  Didn't publicize all events to the world, either, except to one close
and learned friend who said -- what can you do, kibbud av v'im, leave it alone.

I was fortunate to find a place where I was able to say Kaddish for the 11
months without a whole lot of hassle (being a female and all).

>find a way around the ruling [ie, I tried asking if I didn't know that
>she was cremated, but was told that in this day & age, a simple phone
>call can ascertain that]

Yeah, but who says you have to MAKE that phone call?  (Or check that eruv when
it's already Shabbos? >-) )

>Or, finally, something that will help ME come to grips with this situation.

Wish I had more but at least you know you're not the only one.

BEST of everything to you.

From: Stephen Phillips <stephenp@...>
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 94 13:55:35 -0500
Subject: Re: Cremation

> From: Steven Edell <edell@...>
> My Mom, "ad 120", is dying of cancer.  She has literally weeks to live 
> according to the doctors.  And she decided a long time ago, that when the 
> time comes, that she wants to be cremated.
> I discussed this with her when I visited her 2 years ago & will gently 
> raise the subject this coming week (Feb 28 - Mar 9) while again visiting her.
> She lives near San Francisco.

This is a very tricky matter to discuss now, as the power over life and
death is in Hashem's hands. Accordingly, I wish your mother a Refuah
Shelemoh and (as you say) may she live to 120. Nevetherless, I feel that
it is right that your particular question should be discussed at this
point in time.

> Anyone out there with similar a similar experience?  Can someone help me 
> find a way around the ruling [ie, I tried asking if I didn't know that 
> she was cremated, but was told that in this day & age, a simple phone 
> call can ascertain that], or steer me to material that could help me 
> change my Mom's mind?  Or, finally, something that will help ME come to 
> grips with this situation.

You do not say in your message whether or not your father is alive and
what other members of your family there are who might wish to abide by
your mother's wishes. I don't know whether the law in California is the
same, but here in England the law is that after a person's death control
over his or her body vests in the deceased's executors who may comply
with or ignore as they see fit any wishes previously expressed by the
deceased (whether in a Will or otherwise) as to mode of burial. Thus, if
the executors (who are often the closest relatives, and most always are
the closest relatives in the event there is no Will) may bury a person
who wished to be cremated if the executors did not agree with cremation,
and ofcourse vice versa.

So, if the arrangements for burial are to be in your hands or in the
hands of some member of your family who can be persuaded that cremation
is wrong, then you could legally ignore your mother's wishes, but
without ofcourse telling her this during her lifetime.  This should,
however, be discussed with a competent Rabbi who should be asked whether
or not such a deception would be permitted (I feel that it probably
would be). You may also need to consult a lawyer as to the legailities
under Californian law.

Stephen Phillips


From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235@...>
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 94 13:55:25 -0500
Subject: One year programs

    It is clear that Gedalyah Berger and Jeff Wolff are talking about
two different one year programs.  Gedalyah is talking about programs in
Yeshivot Hesder (Gush, KBY, HaKotel etc.) where clearly hebrew is the
rule as is Ziyonut. Jeff is talking about one year programs in American
yeshivot in Israel (Dvar yerushalayim, Hafetz hayyim etc.) where English
is the rule and a-zionism or anti-zionism pervails.
    In Michlalah hebrew is the rule but its a-zionistic; Bravenders is
very zionistic but in the one year program (there IS an ISRAELI program)
English is the rule. In the one year University program, English is
generally the rule, though there are required ulpanim and some Ivrit
kallah courses.
    Unfortunately, for Right wing Yeshivish youth Jeff is right on the
            Try to be happy - it's still Adar.


From: <davidk@...> (David Kramer)
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 94 11:57:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Pastoral Care and Hospitals in Israel

Nadine Bonner writes:
>   Like most things in Israel, hospitals are divided into secular and

Sorry, Nadine, but this is total, utter nonsense. 'Most things' here are not
divided such, and neither are hospitals. While there are people who choose to 
only associate with their own 'type' on principle - my day to day experience  
is that the vast majority of Israelis do not segragate themselves. And while
there are institutions that are run by those who consider themselves non-dati
and others run by those who consider themselves dati I have never seen
any difference in the way they treat patients/customers.

> there were no chaplain type rabbis like you meet in US hospitals.  It seems
> to be assumed that if you are dati, you have your own circle of rabbis
> and/or friends to visit.

I don't understand the logic here. If you are dati you have your own circle
of friends - but if you're not you don't have a circle of friends? If you're
dati you have a circle of Rabbis who come and visit you? Non-dati people
also have friends, some also have teachers and mentors.
People depend on their friends and family to care for them - I don't think
institutionalized compassion is anywhere nearly as effective.

>  I had one friend who was dying of cancer and when
> they stopped treatment they shunted him off to a side room and left him
> there.  Even the doctors stopped coming in to check on him, and although his
> friends came as often as they could, after a while the number of those
> visits tapered off as people moved on with their own lives.

This is a very tragic and sad incident. But it can and does also occur to Jews
in NYU and Mount Sinai (hospitals in New York City) too. Unfortunately, if
a persons friends aren't diligent in visiting their friend, the hospital staff
tends to begin to not be as diligent in the patients care. This is wrong and
bad - but it is often what happens - and no more here than in New York. And
in both places there are many shining exceptions.

>   Now, this may be different at hospitals with a religious orientation, such
> as Bikur Holim and Shaare Zedek in Jerusalem.  My son was born on the last
> day of Chanukkah in Bikur Holim. It happened to be a Friday night, and one
> rabbi from Mea Shearim came in with a group of boys and lit the Chanukkah
> candles, made kiddush for the women and then sang zmirot.  They returned in
> the afternoon, despite a torrential downpour.  A friend of mine who gave
> birth at Hadassah said she wouldn't even have known it was Shabbat there.

I was in the hospital with two of my children on two different occasions in
two different hospitals in Gush Dan - Tel Hashomer and Bellinson. On both 
occasions we spent afew days including Shabbat in the hospital. While it
was far from the pure Shabbat atmosphere that my wife experienced in 
Maayanai Hayeshua (a private dati hospital in Bnei Brak which is mostly 
for women giving birth) there was a feeling of Shabbat if nothing else just 
from the people who bothered to make themselves special Shabbat meals, 
light candles and daven.

On Friday in both hospitals a fellow from a Satmar chesed orginization -
yes, Satmar - came around to ask people if they wanted Shabbat
meals. I was astonished and deeply touched by the incredible amount of stuff
they provided. Aside from a bottle of wine and challa rolls for 3 meals,
two pieces of chicken, kugel, fish, some other thing in a plastic container
which to this day I'm not sure what it was - but it was pretty good, two
big thermoses of soup - one for Friday night and one for Shabbat morning,
they also provided matches, candles and candle holders for Shabbat candles, 
besamim and candles for havdala, a little plastic container with salt. They
also said there was a big pot of chullent near the hospital shul for Shabbat 
lunch which I didn't bother getting to. In short - they thought of everything
a person needs for Shabbat. This was such an outpouring of sincere chesed - 
and it certainly made me think of Satmar differently.

>   Also organizations like Amit and Emunah have Bikur Holim committees to
> look after their members. 

There are organizations that do not have newsletters nor committees but
provide a great deal of chesed to the community. One such organization
is 'Ezer Mitzion' which provides a very wide variety of help for people in
need. One of the many things they do is send people to stay with a child
in the hospital if a parent cannot be there (here a parent is required to
be in the hospital with his/her child 24 hours a day). 

> But there are no city wide organizations to take
> care of those people who fall through the cracks.

This is unfortunately true - but there are many orginazations in Israel
that help people who are looking for help. Aside from Ezer Mitzion which I 
mentioned there are afew organizations which lend all kinds of medical
equipment free of charge to anybody who asks. One which I have dealt with is
called Yad Sarah (incidently it is run by dati people - but is avaiable
and used by Jews of all sizes, flavors and colors).

[  David Kramer                       |  INTERNET: <davidk@...>  ]
[ Motorola Communications Israel Ltd. |  Phone (972-3) 565-8638 Fax 565-9507 ]


End of Volume 12 Issue 13