This week was another first for us, but one we would happily have missed out on for a long, long time: our first Israeli funeral.
Differences? First, reflecting the relative size of the communities, there are a lot more Jewish burials in Israel than in Glasgow. (Sharp, am I not?) So, maybe it should not have been a surprise – but it was – to see an electronic noticeboard announcing in a list, the name of each deceased due for burial that day, and their allotted time. Irreverently, it reminded me of a public transport announcement: “The next bus to Heaven will be the 9.45, carry the earthly remains of the late...”
Second, they do not use coffins; just a plain shroud. Thankfully, I had been warned about this, but it was still a little shock to the system to see a wrapped up body instead of a simple, unadorned, box.
Third, after the prayers and the eulogies, we went from the prayer hall at the front of the cemetery to the burial plot – by car. It was such a large cemetery, that walking was not a viable option.
As we made our way among the thousands – tens of thousands? – of plots, I thought about the advice a wise man once gave me: “It’s good to go to the cemetery; it’s more important to leave it.” I was glad to be able to leave.
May the Almighty comfort the mourners, and may they be spared sorrow for many years to come.