Return to homepage

Bookmark This Site
Search our site
Have a question about Jewish customs and practices?
Send this page to a friendDecrease Font
Page DownBottom

Share this page
by: Rabbi Dan S. Wiko PhD
  See the rabbi's bio.
Send a question to the Rabbi

This Month...

Editor's Comment
Michael looks at:
Farewell, Shalom and Adieu

An Open Letter from Abba to His Family

Enough With The Political Finger-Pointing!

Revisiting the Haggadah

Eddy's Recipe List
Victoria Sponge

Book Review
Unstrung Heroes

The Outspeaker
Encouraging violence is never correct

Good times and bad times with Batya

Nathan Weissler
What my friendship with Michael Hanna-Fein meant to me

Marjorie Wolfe
An Interview with Paul Reiser

BC's Backlot
The Last Shalom

This And That
My Treasure Chest

Three Symbols of Passover


Lynn Ruth Miller
How we all became part of a bigger story

Mel Yahre
A few words for my friend

Eddy's Thoughts
Don't let life flutter by

The Bear Facts
How I found Michael


On Friday, July 14, 2006 I was asked the following question:

A couple I am acquainted with tragically lost their 5-year-old daughter to Leukemia. At the time of the funeral preparations, someone on the mother's side of the family asked if the child had a Hebrew birth certificate proving she had been given a Hebrew name by a rabbi. As it turns out the parents had not acquired such a certificate. The in-laws insisted that the child could not be buried in a Jewish cemetery, because without having been given a Hebrew name by a rabbi, she could not be buried in consecrated ground, and would have to be buried in an unmarked grave without the parents ever knowing the location of her resting place. The child's parents would not hear of such a cruel arrangement and proceeded with their original plan to bury their loving daughter in their family plot.

Is there really such a requirement in Jewish law as these in-laws claimed?

This was my response:

Dear reader,

This is, indeed, a very sad tale of misinformation about the precepts of Judaism. fortunately, the couple made their own, and fully acceptable, decision.

Firstly, If Torah teaches anything, it is that "Whatsoever is abhorrent unto you, do not unto others". THAT is Torah, the rest is commentary. In this particular instance, the child, even under the strictest of criteria, was Jewish, because the mother was unquestionably Jewish. There was no reason for the infant to not be buried in sacred ground. The in-laws were wrong and, more importantly, cruel and insensitive to make such an assertion during what had to have been the saddest moment in this young couple's life.

Secondly, even Halacha (Orthodox rulings) not only allows for pekuah nefesh...the saving of a soul, in and out of the body, it demands it. As an example, if a member of the congregation falls ill during, even, Yom Kippur Services and everyone else refuses to phone for a doctor or ambulance, the rabbi is required to do so himself. This ruling tells us, without question, that human life is more important than any required form of observance.


If you have questions about a personal matter, or jewish practices and customs, you can submit them to me by e-mail. I answer all queries directly, or through this column, when the question is informative to our community.

Thank you for your kind attention and this opportunity to share with you,
Rabbi Dan S. Wiko
Back to the list

  See a list of all the Rabbi Dan questions      

Page UpTop Small Monitor Subscribe Tzedakeh Links

Subscribe (free) to the Gantseh Megillah. The Gantseh Megillah and are designed and hosted by HannaVisioN About this site Send a financial contribution to this site Contact us See our glossary of Yiddish words and expressions Log In Join
Personal insights from two yiddishe meydls Life stories from the heart News and information with a lighter touch Politics and policy with a Yiddishe taam