Courtesy of Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images via JTA  The Jewish cemetary of the Mount of Olives overlooks Jerusalem’s Old City.

Courtesy of Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images via JTA 

The Jewish cemetary of the Mount of Olives overlooks Jerusalem’s Old City.


NEW YORK (JTA) — Within hours of his mother’s funeral, Rabbi Abba Cohen was driving from Baltimore to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. That night Cohen, together with his brother and sister, sat on a plane to Israel. The following day he would watch his mother being buried next to his father on the Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem. Only hours later he was once again on a flight, this time back to the United States, where he would sit shiva with the rest of the family.

But organizing a Jewish burial in Israel can be both complicated and costly.

Israel’s national insurance system covers “burial expenses for anyone (even a foreign tourist) who dies in Israel and is buried near his place of death, or for an Israeli buried near his home here,” according to Itim, the religious rights organization. However, those living abroad have to pay their own way and there are no rules limiting how much cemeteries can charge.

The cost of cemetery's popular among American Jews can be  overwhelming.  The prices of burial plots have dramatically risen since around 1970.  The burial plot also include fees for maintenance, as well as headstones and casket.  Another large cost of burring a loved one in Israel includes travel expenses, travel permits for transporting the body, as well cleaning the body. 

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