Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Spooky Nighttime Funeral in Jerusalem

Last night, I attended the funeral of a relative. Unlike the rest of the world, funerals in Israel take place during the day and at night, since kavod hamet (respect for the deceased) requires that the deceased be buried as quickly as possible, even if it requires a funeral at night.

Although I’ve been in Israel for a while and gone to many nighttime funerals, there’s still something very eerie about going to cemeteries after dark. Maybe it’s having watched too many horror movies as a kid, or the midnight showing of Silence of the Lambs …in any event, it's rather creepy.

Before I get to the scary part of this posting, I’m reminded of a true story from my wife’s family. My wife’s cousin worked for the chevra kadisha in an Israeli town…and dug graves. It’s honest, respectable work even if it’s not for everyone.

One day on his way to work, he forgot his lunch at home. When his wife noticed he had forgotten his lunch, she sent it to the cemetery with their 9 year old son. Arriving at the cemetery, the young boy started walking around, calling out “Abba, Abba, where are you?” as he peered into empty graves around the cemetery.

A group of mourners saw this surrealistic scene and were moved to tears…what could be sadder and heart-wrenching than a young boy walking around a cemetery, calling out for his (obviously deceased) father…”Abba, Abba, where are you?

To their shock and horror, a hand suddenly popped out of an open grave and started waving, “Shlomie! Shlomie! I’m over here!!(yes, this is a true story)

Anyway, going back to last night…it’s pitch black…and we’re all milling around waiting for the funeral to start.

My cousin’s husband comes over to me, and we quietly say hi to each other.

We haven’t seen each other for a while, and it’s always nice to meet up with friends and relatives, even though it’s a bit awkward at unfortunate events like funerals.

Then the spooky part comes…

He quietly says, “Hey, you know people…right?”

I whisper back, “I guess…”

He whispers to me, “Do you know who Jameel at the Muqata is…you know…the blogger?


Getting Blog ID’d… at a nighttime FUNERAL…in the middle of a dark Jerusalem cemetery?!?!


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


JJ said...

I liked the "Do you know who Jameel is" part, but the "Abba where are you" story is classic! I believe it- you can't make up stuff like that! I think if I'd been there I would have totally freaked out!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

RR: I blogged this morning on my laptop on my way to work as I wanted my friend to drive (so I could blog). He said exactly the same thing you did, "you can't make up stuff like that!"

Too funny...

Jerusalemcop said...

great stories.

Be very careful tho. if too many people know who Jameel is, you may eventually get surrounded at the Muqata


Ben Bayit said...

I believe that it is minhag Yerushalayim to do burials at night. Other chevrot kadisha will wait until the next day.

I've been at two of these night-time funerals so far - my grandmothers funeral over 15 years ago when I also rode in the chevra kadisha truck together with ten "zebras" chanting and praying in front of shroud wrapped body. I think that added to the "spook factor" about 1,000 times. and another was at a recent funeral of a older relative that died in ths states. He was over 100 when he died. The Admor of a certain chassidic sect in Jerusalem, who is the great-grendson of the rebbe in Poland that this relative used to go to came out to help dig the dirt. He did some spooky prayer stuff over the open grave.

I agree - night funerals are spooky.

Rafi G. said...

I have been to a lot of nighttime funerals as well. The last having been my grandmother. They are pretty spooky..
It sometimes feels like you are having a secret gatherign to perform some sort of magic or voodoo...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

JCop: Surrounded...and then? The suspense is killing me!

BenBayit: Many chevrot around the country also hold of minhag Yerushalahyim, even if the burial isn't in Yerushalayim.

The 3 funerals I attended for my grandparents were all at night...and all spooky. (I missed one since I was too young)

the sabra said...

And I bless you that that incident (Getting Blog ID’d at a nighttime FUNERAL…in the middle of a dark Jerusalem cemetery) should be the scariest incident of your life.
now say amen.

orthomom said...

LOL. Good story.

westbankmama said...

Ok, Jameel, noone else asked this, but is this an Adar story or did it really happen? (Not that I don't trust you and all, but it is that time of year you know...)

Litvshe said...

As someone who, unfortunately, has been to more then one funeral with Jameel, I can attest to the fact he tells the same story every single time. Every time.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Jameel was the scariest one there... :-P

tafka PP said...

Not. Normal!

(But we knew that already)

YMedad said...

My favorite true story of this genre concerns Shaare Zedek's old morgue. When I worked there in the early 1970s (in the hospital's PR department, that is), I knew a fellow who guarded over the bodies at night, saying tehillim and in the morning, preparing all for the funeral. Well, one night he felt sleepy and lay down on one of the benches. Sure enough, the next morning, the relatives entered the room and he awoke with a start. They, in turn, were sure that someone dead had just arisen and lit out back to Meah She'arim that would have done any Olympic sprinter proud.

... Is the Window to Our Soul said...

Oh, I am laughing so hard. I can totally visualize that story. I love stories that are based on misunderstandings.

Unknown said...

Uch - Adar is going to make me not believe almost everything you write.

Did you say it was you?! :)

Yael K said...

That is a classic!!!!

And so DID you say it was you?!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...


Even though it IS Adar, the story WAS 100% true....and I told him it was me.

He was thrilled (and I was rather honored!)

Ezzie: Behold - the Purim/Adar posting is coming soon!

I'm Haaretz, Ph.D. said...

That is funny! Ironic how the more macabre the situation, the funnier the mishap... but then that's exactly what irony means.

yitz said...

There was a story a few years back, I think it was in Yediot, about a phone that was ringing from a grave! Seems that somoene's cellphone fell out of his pocket & was buried with the deceased!

Naomi said...

That is a great story, thanks for sharing, I'm going to pass it on to our Chevra person, she loves a good story!

Search the Muqata


Related Posts with Thumbnails