Har HaMenuhot, the cemetery in western Jerusalem, was founded in 1949, but its first two decades were rife with disagreement and neglect. In the decades that preceded the founding of the state, burial societies that were affiliated with different communities had acted with no supervision on the Mount of Olives. Hostilities in the 1940s and the War of Independence meant a search for new burial sites in safer locations. With the birth of the state, a permanent site was found in Givat Shaul, and the government hoped to impose order and oversight over burial through its local executive arm, the community council. However, conflicts between religious agents and the nascent state’s executive bodies led to a vacuum in the management of Har HaMenuhot. Ultimately, and against the wishes of the state, the cemetery saw a return to pre-state conditions, with a variety of burial societies active on the mount. The young country’s struggle to define the place of its religious institutions in its governing framework ultimately strengthened today’s burial societies, whose abundant activities are a result of an earlier reluctance to come to a resolution on the national level within the framework of the status quo.
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- Burial societies
- Har HaMenuhot
- State of Israel
- Status quo