Question:

I am living far away from a Jewish cemetery, can my children bury me in a non-Jewish cemetery. Should I pass away, can my body be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery?

Answer:

G-d should help you that you should have a long life, but after one passes on it is forbidden to be buried in a cemetery of gentiles. It is very important that a Jew be buried specifically in a Jewish cemetery, and Heaven forbid that you should be buried in a non Jewish cemetery. In fact you should do whatever you can to insure that this indeed happens. This is for a number of reasons and here are some of them. Firstly, the place you are buried in a way gives you your identity, and you want to identity yourself as dying as a Jew and not as a member of a different religion. When Ruth ( Ruth 1-17) was telling her mother in law Naomi that she is insistent on converting to become Jewish, she told her, “I want to die like you and be buried with you”. This is part of having a Jewish identity. There are many people, due to various difficult situations aren’t able to live their lives as Jewish as they would really want, however they want to die s a Jew, even Bilam the wicked one, who was a gentile and a sworn enemy of the Jewish people, stated, “mos nadshei mos yisharim” let me die as a Jew, and let my end be like theirs”. Secondly, according to Jewish tradition when a person dies, only his body ceases to function, but his soul goes to the next world and has an existence, and feelings that are a lot more intense than what we experience in this world, when our soul is bound to a physical body. After gemora and the Shulchan Aruch tell us that a righteous person should not be buried next to a wicked person, because the wicked persons company will disturb the righteous person, as his soul wants to have positive company and “neighbors”. How much more applicable is it that a person should try to do everything in his power not to be buried among gentiles, whose share in the world to come is very different than ours is.

This is even if it will be difficult for your children to visit you in the Jewish cemetery, and they will visit the grave less often,  a person should still seek to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, and not be permanently identified as a non Jew.

As a side point, there are many people from all over the world that wish to be buried in Eretz Yisroel, as it is a great merit for a person’s soul to be buried in Eretz Yisroel. If there is no Jewish cemetery I your area, you might want to consider this.

Again may to merit long good days, and we should all merit the coming of moshiach very soon,and we won’t have to deal with these issues.      .

Sources:

Ran Gittin end of 5th  chapter, Shulchan Aruch 362-5, Pischei Teshuva Y:D 363-1,  Igros Moshe Y:D 3-146, 4- 56(2) , Minchas Elozar 2-41.

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