Burial of Oct. 7 victim in non-Jewish section draws anger; rabbinate defends move

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Alina Plahti (Courtesy)
Alina Plahti (Courtesy)

The rabbi of the city of Beit She’an defends a decision to have a victim of Hamas’s October 7 onslaught buried separately from the graves of Jews at a municipal cemetery.

Alina Plahti, 23, was not Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish law, and dropped out of a program she had attended for converting to Judaism, and therefore could not have been buried with Jews at the cemetery, Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Lasri tells The Times of Israel on Monday.

Lasri’s reaction follows a debate at the Knesset’s Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, where several lawmakers lambasted the decision to separately bury Plahti, who is one of about 1,200 people whom Hamas terrorists murdered in Israel on October 7.

The Jewish burial society of Beit She’an, which operates under the local office of the Chief Rabbinate, buried Plahti on October 30, outside of the perimeter where Jews are buried.

“We share in the family’s pain, but there are clear procedures in place: non-Jews are not buried with Jews, as per the decision of the Chief Rabbinate,” Lasri says.

Olga Plahti, Alina’s 49-year-old mother, told the committee earlier: “Alina died because the terrorist looked for Jews to kill. They didn’t look to see who’s Christian.”

Her daughter should have been buried as a Jew “because she had decided to be Jewish,” Olga Plahti tells The Times of Israel. She believes her daughter was studying for a conversion when she died, Olga says. She does not know under which framework the studies took place, she says. “It hurts and it deeply disappoints us that she wasn’t buried in accordance to who she was,” Olga adds.

At the Knesset meeting, Oded Forer, the committee’s chair and a lawmaker for the Yisrael Beytenu opposition party, said: “I am ashamed for the State of Israel and apologize for her being treated this way.”

“I apologize in the name of Judaism, which is not represented by what happened here,” said Elazar Stern, another opposition lawmaker from the Yesh Atid party.

Different interpretations exist for what Orthodox Jewish law says about burying non-Jews with Jews. Whereas the Rabbinate follows a policy of separation, some interpretations permit mixed burial, especially for those who died fighting with those considered Jews according to Jewish law.

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