Woman killed in Oct 7 Hamas attacks denied Jewish burial due to incomplete Judaism conversion

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A Russian-Israeli woman in her 20s, who was murdered by Hamas at a music festival during the militants’ brutal assault on Oct 7, was denied a burial in a Jewish cemetery, reported Israeli media.

Ms Alina Falahati, a discharged Israeli soldier, was buried “outside (of) the fence” of a cemetery in Beit She’an, a town in Israel, as she did not fully convert to Judaism before she died, according to reports on Tuesday.

This was revealed during a Knesset discussion on Monday about the expedition of conversion process for those serving in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

At the hearing, Ms Falahati’s mother said that her daughter was “murdered as a Jew”.

Ms Falahati was killed at the open-air Nova music festival a few kilometres from the Gaza security fence when Hamas gunmen attacked, killed at least 260 festival-goers and took others hostage.

She was believed to have been missing for three weeks until her body was found, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Tuesday.

“Our children were murdered together. I am here today so that the same mistakes won’t be made,” said Ms Falahati’s mother Olga.

“Alina was burned. They didn’t let me identify her. I couldn’t give her one last hug. In the obituary notice, they didn’t write that we were sitting the shiva mourning period (seven days of mourning), they said that we were receiving guests.”

In an interview with TV news outlet N12 News Israel, Mdm Falahati said rabbis told her son on the day of her daughter’s funeral that it was “impossible” to bury Ms Falahati in the Jewish cemetery because she had not completed the conversion process.

“This is the answer we got. It hurts me a lot. We thought the country was with us,” she said.

The Falahati family has lived in Israel for 22 years. Ms Falahati started the conversion process while serving in the IDF.

“Her intention was very clear – to finish the process, live in Israel, get married and have children,” said her mother.

“It hurts me a lot to hear about this decision. No one spoke to me, it’s their decision on our behalf. Alina was murdered in the war. After the hell she went through, does she deserve a different burial? This decision is unacceptable to me.”

Mr Oded Forer, who chairs the Israeli Parliament’s Aliyah, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee, criticised what he called a “humiliation” to Ms Falahati.

“We have greatly insulted those who sanctified the land of Israel with their blood, who came here and left their place in exile,” he said.

“I want to be buried next to such a person, even if it means being buried outside the (cemetery) fence. There’s no greater humiliation of the dead.”

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