A case of mistaken identity that led to the burial of a Jewish man in a Christian cemetery was corrected this week, with the assistance of Zaka volunteers, who physically moved the remains of the individual in question to kever Yisrael.
The story began about four years ago, when the individual, who had been working in construction, fell off a building in a construction accident, eventually passing away due to injuries he sustained. Police, and his employer, were unable to identify the individual. After about a month, he still remained unidentified – and, presumed to be a Christian worker from Europe, as were most of the other workers at the construction site, he was buried in the Christian section of a cemetery for non-Jews on a kibbutz in southern Israel.
About a year after the burial, police were able to track down the victim’s identity – and discovered that he was actually Jewish, and that he had a mother living in Israel. Police informed the mother, but for various reasons she refused to believe the report, and thus never told other family members about the story. The victim had actually been estranged from his family, and had lived abroad for years – and presumably the mother believed he was still there.
Recently, a brother of the victim – who apparently was not even aware that he had a brother – was arrested as part of a group accused of a “price tag” offense against Arabs. During his interrogation by the Shin Bet, he was informed that he had a brother who had been killed in a construction accident – a fact with which he was totally unfamiliar. When he was released, the detainee told his father the story, who confirmed that the victim was actually a family member. The father, who was informed by authorities about the location of the his son’s kever, quickly sought and received permits from police and the Health Ministry to disinter and rebury the victim in a Jewish cemetery. Seeking help in accomplishing that, the father asked Zaka volunteers for help, the organization said.
The victim was reburied at Har Hamenuchos cemetery in Jerusalem. Under the instructions of Harav Yaakov Roget, the family members did kriya (without a brachah) and sat shivah for the remainder of the day after the levayah.