In 2009, 13 year-old Gai Ben-David was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and died shortly after celebrating his bar mitzvah. As Gai was born to a Jewish father and underwent his conversion to Judaism with a Conservative Rabbi, he was refused burial in the Jewish cemetery in Madrid, run under Orthodox auspices. Under pressure, the Orthodox Chief Rabbi finally relented, but adding insult to injury, they buried him in a separate corner of the cemetery, his grave walled off from all the others by a fence, in order to make their position on his conversion crystal clear.
Madrid's Masorti community resolved to build a cemetery of their own which would accept all Jews, including anyone with a halachic conversion and not split up families. However, they soon learned that a modest section in a private cemetery would cost 2 million Euros-far beyond the reach of this community of 200 families.
Public plots in municipal cemeteries were even more difficult to come across, as authorities in Madrid insisted that the community should use the existing Jewish cemetery, and suburban cemeteries refused to allocate space on grounds that they had no Jewish residents who would benefit such a cemetery.
Years of tireless work by
members of the Bet El community and its President Gabriel Prisiallni finally secured a 1000 square meter (quarter acre) extension that would be divided into 120 burial plots adjacent to the existing cemetery in the village of La Cabrerra, 40 miles outside of Madrid. For a sum of
€160,000 the municipality agreed to allow the construction of a Masorti Jewish cemetery, and issued all the relevant permits.
Following a campaign to raise funds for this project, the community succeeding in raising
€60,000-just over the amount needed to secure the deposit. The community's attempt to get a bank loan has so far been unsuccessful, and without private donations or loans, the project will die in its tracks. The permits stipulate that work must commence by June, 2018 or they forfeit the permits and the location.
You can help use ensure that all Jews receive a dignified and halachic Jewish burial.
Please donate generously to ensure that the Kehillah in Madrid is able to build its cemetery and not be cast once more into cruel political wrangling with the Chief Rabbinate in times of deep personal and communal pain. Your support is crucial to this effort, and time is of the essence. Your donation will enable work on the cemetery to begin-without it, the permits and the plot are lost to us.
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the Masorti Jewish Cemetery in Madrid