Information on burial and on shipping the remains of U.S. citizen

  1. Obtaining an official report of death of a U.S. Citizen
  2. Information on burial and on shipping the remains of U.S. citizen

Last updated March 5, 2019

The following information is submitted in accordance with State Department requirements to provide current data on Israeli law on the disposition of remains.

DISCLAIMER:  The U.S. Embassy assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms.  Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.

 

When the remains are embalmed:  Embalming is not common practice in Israel.  Therefore, there is no local law requiring burial of an embalmed body within a specified period of time.

When the remains are not embalmed: Israeli law requires disposition of remains within 48 hours unless the remains are to be shipped outside the country.  Under Israeli law, a body must be embalmed before it can be shipped outside the country.

Embalming is performed by one of three offices in Israel:

  1. The Institute of Forensic Medicine

Director:  Prof. Chen Kugel
67 Ben Zvi Blvd.
Abu Kabir, Tel Aviv/Jaffa, Israel
Tel:  +972-3-512-7844/5; +972-3-512-7851/2

  1. Menucha La’ad
    Director: Mr. Shaike Kariv
    30 Hashaham St.
    Petach Tikva, Israel
    E-mail: replaad@gmail.com
    Tel: + 972-3-687-2929
    Mobile: + 972-50-521-2464
  1. Noam Embalming Services
    Director:  Mr. Benny Noam
    23 Moshe Dayan St
    Ramat Gan
    Tel: +972-3-574-3339/0
    Mobile: +972-57-770-8532

While the Institute of Forensic Medicine is a Government of Israel agency under the Ministry of Health, the latter two are private companies.   By law, private companies must bring embalmed remains to the Institute for inspection and issuance of a non-infectious disease certificate.

While not legal under Jewish law, cremation is permissible under Israeli civil law.  There is one cremation facility in Israel:

Aley Shalechet
1-800-333-188 (within Israel)
+972-73-275-5750 (from overseas)
www.aleyshalechet.co.il

When remains are to be transported back to the United States, containers meeting all U.S. and Israel shipping requirements can be obtained locally upon special order usually within 48 hours.

Caskets may be obtained by special order from:

  1. Yehezkel Gedalia
    Tel: 011-972-8-928-2125
    Mobile: 011-972-52-277-0278
  2. Benny Noam
    Tel: 011-972-3-574-3330/9
    Mobile: 011-972-57-770-8532

Remains:
Israeli requirements regarding exportation of remains are as follows:

  1. Death Certificate issued by the Ministry of Interior;
  2. Statement from the Embalmer;
  3. Transit permit stating there is no objection to the export of the remains from Israel; and
  4. Certificate of non-infectious disease.

The Ministry of Interior requires that the casket be prepared and sealed in accordance with Public Health (re-interment) Rules of the year 1941.

Ashes:

Ashes may be imported to the U.S. as long as they are accompanied by a Certificate of Cremation, provided by the crematorium (Aley Shalechet).

Jewish Burial:  Since October 1, 1976, the Israeli National Insurance Organization covers the cost of the funeral for a person of the Jewish faith when the person is to be buried in Israel, regardless of citizenship.  This includes the preparation of the body, burial ceremony and local burial plot.  Other expenses such as transportation of the body from the place of death to the funeral home or cemetery may be applicable and are usually in the region of $500.  If the family wishes to choose a particular plot, however, the family must pay all expenses.  Private burial by the Jewish Burial Society (Hevra Kadisha), which includes a plot, gravesite preparation and funeral expenses, costs between $5,000-20,000, depending on plot location.  Every city has its own Jewish Burial Society.

Muslim Burial:  The Israeli National Insurance Organization covers the cost of the funeral for a person of the Muslim faith who made regular Israeli National Insurance contributions.  The cost for a private burial to include the plot, gravesite preparation, shroud and offering for the Sheik attending the funeral, is based upon the age of the deceased: 0-1 year – no charge; 1-10 years – approximately $260; 10 years and older – approximately $1,200.  The burial arrangements must be made by the family of the deceased individual.  For further details, contact Haj Jawad Hamdan, Head of the Al- Nozha Jaffa Mosque, +972-50-655-7088.

Protestant Burial:  The cost of plot, gravesite preparation, casket, funeral service and marker is approximately $1,500.  Contact Father Ibrahim Azar of the Lutheran Redeemer Church at +972-2-627-6111 or +972-54-556-6947.

Roman Catholic Burial:  Due to lack of space, burials plots are available to parish members only.  The cost for a vault burial is $1,000.  This includes the burial service, but does not include the casket.  Contact Father Zahar at +972-50-284-6442 for further details.  For a Catholic Polish Burial contact Father Gregory at +972-3-682-2680 for details.

Greek Orthodox Burial:  Burial at a local cemetery, which includes the plot, gravesite preparation, casket, funeral services and marker, costs approximately $1,000.  Due to lack of plots, only members of the community are eligible for burial.  Contact Father Damaskinos at +972-3-682-3451 or Father Konstantine Nassar at +972-52-318-7618, or the Office of Community Council at +972-3-682-3304.

Embalming:

Institute of Forensic Medicine = $850
Menucha Le’Ad = $1,500
Noam Embalming Services = $1,500

Transportation from other cities in Israel to the embalming establishment:   about $500.00

Shipping Costs:  The cost of shipment of remains from Israel to the United States is between $2,000-$3,000 (depending on weight of the remains and destination in the U.S.)

In accordance with Israeli health regulations, remains of persons of the Jewish faith may be disinterred a year from the date of burial.  There is no law prohibiting disinterment of remains of persons of other faiths at any given time, provided that the Ministry of Health is in agreement.  Exhumation must be performed in the presence of a representative of the Israeli Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health, having given the necessary permission for exhumation of remains, must also obtain the consent of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel for exhumation of the remains of persons of the Jewish faith.  For exhumation of the remains of persons of the Muslim faith, the consent of the Islamic High Council is needed, and for exhumation of persons of the Christian faith a Church consent is required.  The Jewish Burial Society is responsible for exhumation of remains.  Remains that are to be shipped out of Israel may require embalming, depending on the stage of decomposition.

Exhumation related charges are as follows:

  • Ministry of Health (Certificate of Consent and presence of representative at exhumation): $250-$300
  • Exhumation fee: $1,500-2,000
  • Approximate freight charges to the U.S.: $1,500 – $2,000

Cause of Death:  The cause of death is not routinely stated on the Israeli Death Certificate unless (1) the family has specifically requested the cause of death be added to the Certificate; (2) an autopsy has been performed; or (3) the remains are to be shipped outside of Israel. 

Autopsies:  Autopsies in Israel are generally not performed unless they are (1) required by the Israeli National Police (INP) or another Israeli Government office, or (2) the family has specifically requested an autopsy be performed.  If not requested by the Israeli authorities, the family must pay the cost for the autopsy (approximately $850.00).  The INP will normally order an autopsy in cases where foul play is suspected.  Under circumstances where foul play is suspected and the INP requires an autopsy, the family is not obliged to pay the cost of the autopsy; the INP, however, must obtain permission from the next of kin when ordering an autopsy.  If the family refuses to provide its permission to perform an autopsy, the INP can request a court order permitting the autopsy to be performed without family consent.