Despite Coronavirus, Jews’ Bodies Still Being Flown to Israel for Burial
JNS.org – Despite the coronavirus outbreak and almost the complete shutdown of international travel to Israel, deceased Jews from around the world continue to be flown to Israel for burial.
“The Land of Israel is a very special place for Jewish people to be buried. The flights have been reduced heavily, but there are cargo flights. So it may take a bit longer, but we are getting people coming in,” said Rabbi Michoel Fletcher, who works with Jews abroad seeking to buy burial plots in Israel, the AP reported on Saturday.
Fletcher said that some families in New York have decided to temporarily bury their dead in the United States, and then later exhume the bodies when flights to Israel resume.
Jews have sought to be buried in Israel for thousands of years and continue to be flown in by private charter planes, cargo flights and other companies. A burial plot can cost from between a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the cemetery.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said 300 bodies, some of them COVID-19 victims, have arrived since February, according to the report. The process is complex and involves handling companies, local Israeli consulates and the Israeli Health Ministry.
An unidentified Israeli aviation official told the AP that a cargo flight that arrives in Israel from Belgium five times a week brings in about 20 bodies a flight—“an exceptional amount.” Most of the bodies come from France, and there is also a weekly cargo flight from New York, said the official.