Does Cremation Honour Holocaust Victims?
by Rabbi Aron Moss
I need an urgent answer. I am right now by the bedside of a dying man who told me that he wants to be cremated to show solidarity with all the victims of the Nazis that were burned. I know it is an emotional argument, but how can I explain him that the opposite is true?
The sentiment is sincere and I am sure coming from a good place. But it is a big mistake.
If we could ask the victims their opinion on this, they would scream NO, don't honour me by being cremated. They would have wanted to have a proper Jewish burial. It was the Nazis who chose cremation, not the victims. By voluntarily opting for cremation you are not perpetuating the victims wishes, but rather the nefarious wishes of their evil murderers.
There is a better way to show solidarity with our dear brothers and sisters lost in the death camps. Have a traditional Jewish funeral, be buried in the community cemetery, and have inscribed on your grave a dedication to victims of the Holocaust. Thus you will be permanently honouring their memory, and in some symbolic way giving them what they truly wished for, a dignified Jewish burial.
While their bodies were destroyed, their holy souls were untouched. They died, but their Jewishness lives on in us. We honour them by living Jewishly in our lifetime, and by being buried Jewishly in our death.
You have the choice when they did not. If you want to do something for them, choose the option that they would have chosen.