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Reflections from our BDJ Members in Israel #5 Part 2

02/15/2024 04:34:25 PM


Stacy Kent

Shevivim Cemetery

After Kibbutz Gvulot, we went to the Shevivim cemetery. In every cemetery there is a military section so that if a soldier from that community dies they can be buried with their community but also acknowledged properly in the military section. In this military section there are 29 temporary graves. Twenty nine of the 90 plus innocent civilians from Kibbutz Be’eri who died on Oct 7th are temporarily buried next to the military section in the Shevivim cemetery. Again, often kibbutzim have long and heated discussions and difficult decision making processes, but when this was asked of Kibbutz Shevivim, the answer was an immediate YES. 

I learned a lot about temporary burials. The victims were buried in coffins rather than the tallit or shroud that Israelis are typically buried in. The coffins are in large plastic bags and the ropes that are used to bury the coffin remain in the grave to be used when the body is re-buried. I also learned that in military funerals, the soldier is not buried in a coffin as well, primarily because the body is not always in its original form. 

At the matzevot (markers) of the 29, it was impossible not to notice the names- entire family members buried together- where the dates are far too soon. Twins next to each other, flanked by their parents. I also learned that temporary burials  are not new in Israel. During the Six Day War, in the Southern region, there were 296 soldiers temporarily buried at Kibbutz Be’eri. The historical irony is just too much. 

Kibbutz Be’eri was named for Berol Katznelson, the reporter who founded “Dvar”,  an early Zionist newspaper. He felt that it was critical to tell the story about what was happening in 1948 and he was a close friend of David Ben Gurion.  It was not easy  to be Ben Gurion’s friend (often politicians and writers/reporters have a hard time with each other) . Today, Israel doesn’t have a lot of friends. When I heard this story it reaffirmed why it is so important for us to be here and when we are not here to be Israel’s friends. 

Mon, June 17 2024 11 Sivan 5784