Board calls on government to 'respect religious traditions' and allow burial for coronavirus deaths

Board President Marie van der Zyl says proposed emergency legislation should be amended so councils must still respect the deceased's beliefs



The Board of Deputies has called on the government to “respect religious traditions on cremation and burial” over coronavirus deaths as emergency legislation threatens to empower authorities to cremate bodies without consent.

Board President Maire van der Zyl said on the government should to include exemptions to proposed legislation so local authorities would still have to respect the deceased's religious beliefs.

The Coronavirus Bill, the two-year emergency legislation that the government is seeking to pass this week, includes a clause that permits local authorities to cremate a body even if it is against the wishes of the deceased or their family.

Mrs van der Zyl said: “We know there will be deaths as a result of this virus. Every death is a tragedy and we are aware that two members of the Jewish community sadly lost their lives over the weekend.”


“For those that do succumb to this pandemic,” she continued, “it is important that they know that they will be lain to rest in accordance with their wishes.”

“For the overwhelming majority of UK Jews this means that the deceased must be buried and not cremated. This also applies to a number of other faith communities including Muslims and some Christians.”

Cremation, she said “will only add to the sorrow of grieving families and go against fundamental freedoms of religious and belief.”

The Board thanked Labour MP Naz Shah for backing such an amendment.

Jewish communities around Europe are facing difficulties as restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In France, the burial of Rabbi André Massoud Touboul on Saturday was conducted without purification rites, a shiva or a minyan to recite kaddish.

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