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Defense Ministry OKs religious phrases on military graves

A committee established by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recommended allowing Hebrew acronyms for "may God avenge his blood" and "of blessed memory."

An IDF soldier participates in the annual ceremony, ahead of Memorial Day, of laying Israeli flags on the graves of fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, April 11, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
An IDF soldier participates in the annual ceremony, ahead of Memorial Day, of laying Israeli flags on the graves of fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, April 11, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The Israeli Defense Ministry has approved a request by bereaved families to include religious phrases on the headstones of fallen soldiers.

The decision follows a complaint by a bereaved family member and a public outcry over the ministry’s initial refusal to include the three-letter Hebrew acronym for “may God avenge his blood” on the stones.

A committee established by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recommended allowing the acronym, which has heretofore not been allowed on military graves, as well as the commonly used abbreviation for “of blessed memory,” a Defense Ministry spokesperson said.

The issue was first raised by the family of Cpt. Yisrael Yudkin, who was killed in Gaza on May 22. His family are members of the Chabad hassidic movement.

“This is not just our pain but the pain of many,” the family had written the defense minister.

Their request was endorsed by various Israeli lawmakers. In the wake of the change in policy, additional bereaved families have since added such inscriptions on the graves of their fallen loved ones.

Yudkin served in the ultra-Orthodox Netzach Yehuda batallion, but his family said this was not a religious issue.

“This is not a haredi custom, it’s one that has been an idea in Judaism for thousands of years. It can’t be that in the State of Israel, we’re not allowed to include this on a grave,” she said.

After the decision to let family members decide, Yudkin’s mother Tzipi said: “It’s one less burden in our grief for our son.”

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