Recently, the tragic suicide of Florida teen Aaron Tabachnik has led to court controversy. Tabachnik’s funeral arrangements were originally left to his mother’s discretion and included cremation. Tabachnik’s mother hoped to honor her son by cremating his body, and then spreading his ashes in Arad, Israel where the family originally hails from. However, Tabachnik is of the Jewish faith and, after hearing about the plans, his father took action to prevent the cremation in favor of a more traditional burial. To help ensure that Aaron received a Jewish burial, Rabbi Isaac Leider put together a petition at Care2.com. Rabbi Leider further offered his insights concerning Aaron’s burial, and helped shed light on the issue of cremating members of the Jewish faith.
1. What is the issue surrounding Aaron Tabachnik’s funeral arrangements?
The issue is that it is one of the most basic aspects of Jewish Law that a Jew must be buried whole. In addition to this, it is the father’s wishes that Aaron be buried according to Jewish Law. Therefore, the court, in allowing Aaron’s proper burial, would not only be ruling for religious freedom, but respecting the wishes of Aaron’s father in his time of grief.
2. Why is it problematic for Aaron’s body to be cremated?
Nothing is more important to Jewish tradition that a Jew’s body be buried whole. Cremation is the worst type of violation of Jewish Law. In addition, it would cause the father unnecessary additional grief if Aaron’s body were cremated.
3. What is the importance of a proper Jewish burial?
Jews believe that a person’s body belongs to G-d. When a Jew dies, he must return his body to G-d whole. Further, Jews believe that in a time of future Redemption, G-d will restore the bodies of the righteous to life. Therefore, it is essential that a Jew be buried properly, according to Jewish Law.
4. Why do you feel that this issue is so important?
Because the issue is such a central issue in Jewish Law, allowing Aaron’s body to be [cremated] would go against the American tradition of religious freedom and would be wrong because it would cause pain to the father.
The issue of Aaron’s burial is an incredibly sensitive one. Both of Aaron’s parents want the best for their son and want to honor his memory. We know that his parents will do whatever they can to ensure that their son’s faith and wishes are respected. We wish his family and friends the best in overcoming the aftermath of this tragedy.
Photo by pboyd04 via Flickr
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