Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Day, from the night of April 20, through April 21, meant that depressing coronavirus news shared somewhat equal billing with solemn Holocaust-related news items, at least for a few days. A news piece in the Jerusalem Post in that genre, spoke of the resurgence of the Dortmund, Germany Jewish community, which today numbers 3,000 souls, around the same as in 1938, when an evil madman with a mustache unleashed the eternal hatred in the German breast for the Jewish people. Dortmund, it seems, has recovered so nicely that they’ve gone ahead and built the first Jewish school in that city since 1942.
Presumably, we are supposed to see this resurrection as an achievement, perhaps even something miraculous: a murdered people coming back to life, as strong as ever.
It makes me sick. What? You didn’t get the message the first time around? You’ve come back for another go?
But I’ve written about my feelings on this before. I wrote about this in 2018, in a piece I called, “The Guest Who Wouldn’t Leave” which described my anguish at reading about three orthodox rabbis ordained in Berlin, after an 80-year “interruption.”
No one should be reviving Jewish life in Germany. No Jews should live there, ever. It’s a place that does not want us. It’s a place that hates us, now as then, even when the hate is maintained at a slow simmer—with bubbles that only occasionally poke above the water line—instead of a rolling boil.
A resurgence of Jewish life in Germany is not a good thing and should not be encouraged. Especially when it is today, so easy to hop on a plane to live in Israel, in Jewish indigenous territory, the place we prayed to return to all these thousands of years.

By coincidence, on the same day I read about the resurgence of Jewish life in Germany, I read a different news piece about dead Jews clamoring to be buried in Israel, an expensive proposition made even more costly, due to the global pandemic. The rising costs of burial in the Holy Land for Diaspora Jews are due not only to costs associated with coronavirus precautions, but also, it seems to price gouging. The Jewish Press, nonetheless, reports that over 200 coronavirus victims, wrapped and packed according to Israel’s Ministry of Health strict guidelines, have been brought to the Jewish State for burial. With COVID-19 taking so many lives in the Jewish community, dead Jews are practically an entire industry. This at a time when unemployment in Israel has risen to unseemly heights and the Israeli economy has plunged.
Exactly how much does it cost to be buried in Israel? There’s the burial plot, which in non-pandemic times can cost as much as $35,000. There’s the airfare ($1k-$3k on El Al, $30,000 to $40,000 if using a private jet), with added costs for pandemic precautions (another $200-$300). But the cost to transport dead American Jews has zoomed ever upward, as the demand rises, to some $200,000 a flight. ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav claimed that one family paid $270,000 to fly a body to Israel in a private jet.
The costs do not end here. There’s a fee from Ben Gurion Airport to the burial society, which may reach a cost of $1,300. Then there’s cleansing the body which can cost around $800.
In short, it costs as much for Diaspora Jews to be buried in Israel as it does to purchase a modest Israeli apartment. Framed another way, it costs as much to be dead in Israel as it does to live in Israel. And by the way, Israel’s National Insurance Institute “pays burial expenses and related services for every person who dies in Israel and is buried in Israel, and for every Israeli resident who dies outside of Israel.”
It seems to me that the two news items, one detailing the resurgence of the Jewish community in Dortmund, Germany, the other detailing dead Jews clamoring to be buried in the Holy Land, express a kind of backward Jewish ghetto mentality that must be addressed. Jews should not live in Germany, but in Israel. Jews should not be clamoring to be dead in Israel, but to live in Israel.
The Torah teaches “Chai B’hem,” that we should live and not die by the precepts handed down to Moses at Sinai. We should not be focused on the resurrection of the murdered or on where we wish to be buried, but where we will live now, in the present. Our entire focus should be on building the Jewish community in Israel, and only in Israel, now and forever.
Once someone lives in Israel and subsequently dies, after living a long life, to 120, the burial costs nothing, so you don’t even have to think about it. It’s a twofer, Folks. The burial’s already covered. So you might as well make the best of it and spend your hard-earned cash dollars on life.
L’Chaim!



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