A case of mistaken identity led to a rather surrealistic sequence of events last week, when the Chevra Kadisha burial society accidentally buried the wrong woman.
Shifra Dafna, an 80-year old Tel Aviv resident who died last week, was supposed to be laid to rest in Jerusalem shortly after her passing. However, the burial society mistakenly buried a different woman.
“We were supposed to bring my beloved aunt to burial last week in Jerusalem,” said Betty Lahat, Dafna’s niece. “Family members from across Israel came to pay their respects. We all made our way to the gravesite accompanied by Chevra Kadisha workers, who were rushing us throughout the whole funeral for some reason.
“At the gravesite, my uncle read the Kaddish and as we finished covering the grave with fresh dirt and placing flowers on top of it, we received a shocking call. The company claimed that another family had come to identify a body which turned out to be my aunt’s body, making it clear that they had buried the wrong woman,” exclaimed Lahat.
“Later,” said Lahat, “several men from the burial society arrived and took the ‘wrong’ body out of the grave. We were in shock and couldn’t believe our eyes. They worked so quickly and wanted us to keep the whole thing very quiet,” she said.
According to Lahat, the ‘wrong’ body that was taken out of the fresh grave was placed on the side. Shortly thereafter, her aunt’s body was brought to the burial site.
“We had to reread the eulogies and the Kaddish. Family members were enraged by the situation. Two people even fainted at the sight of the ‘wrong’ body when taken out of the grave,” Lahat said.
“My aunt was sick during her final years. I couldn’t imagine she would suffer so much in her death,” she added.
Assistant Director General of the Sephardic Chevra Kadisha, Yossi Gil told Ynet that “this was an unfortunate mistake. The company holds a strict identification process. The deceased’s brother identified the woman but apparently he identified the wrong body. The identification process is even documented on video,” he said.
“We’re not shaking off our responsibility, and we will examine the unfortunate turn of events. We didn’t want to cause any harm and we’re full of remorse for the mistake,” Gil added.
According to Gil, there was no attempt to silence the family or cover up the mistake. “This kind of mistake has never happened before and we will see to it that it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
The Ministry of Religious Services did not comment on the matter.