The Case of Yechezkel Chazani’s Burial

This is a story which just has to be told. I have been following this story since the untimely, unfortunate death of Yechezkel Chazani’s just before Yom Kippur.

On 12 October, 2005, Toby Klein Greenwald wrote Report #10: State of Evicted Residents of Gush Katif, Northern Gaza and Northern Shomron Communities; Victim of Disengagement: 30,000 IS to bury him “because he doesn’t live here.”

As a follow-up, I received the forwarded email below just after Yom Tov. As the email was forwarded to me, I am now putting it out for readers of this blog to review and act on. I am removing the sender’s names for their own security and protection. If there is anyone interested in helping, please contact me for contact information.

Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 9:14 AM
Subject: Fw: 30,000 shekel to bury recently homeless man

—– Original Message —–
From:
Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2005 7:44 PM
Subject: 30,000 shekel to bury recently homeless man

Dear Friends

On Tuesday before Yom Kippur, Yechezkel Chazani’s (zichrono livracha -of blessed memory) heart stopped. He was a 53 year old man, father of six children aged 8-25, who had lived for the last 25 years in Netzer Chazani (same as his last name by coincidence). He and his wife were on their way to an Israeli Defence Force ceremony in which their son was participating. They have been living in a guest house since August when the same IDF removed approximately 8000 Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip. Chazani lost his home and his job in August. Can’t be proven but it seems likely that this is what killed this otherwise healthy man who had no history of heart problems.

In Israel, when someone dies they are usually buried in their home town for free or for a nominal fee. But where was Yechezkel’s z”l home town? All Jewish graves in Gush Katif had been dug up and reburied in other parts of Israel. Since he died in Netivot in the South, his family chose to bury him in Rishon Letzion, a large city not too far away. I was told by Anita Tucker, a friend of the family and also a former resident of Netzer Chazani, that the chevra kadisha charged the family 30,000 shekel. I called the chevra kadisha myself today because I couldn’t believe the callousness.

I was told that 30,000 shekel is the usual fee for burying a non-resident of Rishon Letzion in that city and the man I spoke to agreed that since the Israeli government caused this man to be without a hometown where he would have been buried for free (or nearly free) they carry the responsibility to pay this fee. In the meantime they accepted a post-dated check from the son in order not to delay the burial, but will not allow a tombstone to be erected until they are paid. Through tears, I agreed that I also think that it is the government’s responsibility to pay the fee, but that I cannot bear to see this family suffer any additional pain which would surely be the result if they need to delay putting up the tombstone, which is normally done in Israel on the thirtieth day after the
burial.

In order to help this family, I suggest two things:

1. That people in Israel call the Rishon chevra kadisha. I got two numbers from information for them: 03-964-8195 and 03-966-5522. Tell them to pressure the government to take responsibility but that if it comes to that, that you think they MUST waive the fee. I don’t have much hope that the government will pay in less than 30 days, but if enough people get involved maybe I’ll be proven wrong.

2. Pressure the Israeli government (perhaps via email, phone, fax whatever) to take responsibility. They were so efficient at removing people from their homes, now they are doing such a poor job of tending to their needs. The case of Yechezkel Chazani is only the most outrageous case. Many people are unemployed and so even the people who are in hotels and therefore aren’t hungry do not all have enough money to buy their kids diapers, winter clothing etc. People cannot get to their own belongings which are in sealed containers. People who were independent and used to provide for themselves have had to resort to begging for charity. It is unconscionable that the government has allowed this to happen. And many people don’t know that it’s happening because the media is not publicizing this stuff. If the government wasn’t ready to handle the needs of the people they should have delayed the pull-out until they were ready.

FOR THOSE WHO LIVE IN THE U.S. Call the embassy in Washington D.C. or the consulate in N.Y. or other cities and let them know that you know about this and protest it and expect to see improvements fast.

Please pass this on to others who you believe will care enough to make
calls or fax or mail.

May there only be glad tidings.

Thank you!