Most people who want to be buried in Israel are flown there immediately following their death, says Shimshon Mozes of London's Mozes Travel agency, which handles most reburials in Israel from the U.K.
The process of reinterment in Israel is complex and bureaucratic, first requiring an exhumation license signed by the office of the British Home Secretary, he says. The request form must be filled out by the next of kin. If there is no spouse, each child of the deceased must sign. "You do find circumstances where the children living in Israel want to bring over their father's body but a second wife does not give permission," he says.
Additionally, permission for exhumation is required from the burial society in whose grounds the body is lying. "Some of the Orthodox [burial societies] are not very happy about it because they feel it is not respectful to the dead and they fear it may disturb other graves around it," he says.
A coroner's certificate is also required to remove the body from the U.K., although it is generally just a formality. The next stage is to obtain a letter from a burial society in Israel confirming that a plot awaits and that the body will be met at the airport. All these forms, plus the deceased's death certificate, are then checked by the Israeli consulate in London, where a license is issued permitting the body to be taken to Israel.
The disinterring itself is a difficult job, says Mozes. It is always performed at dawn and a municipal environmental officer must be present. The coffin is placed inside a zinc-lined coffin which is hermetically sealed. "All in all, it involves hours of work, some of it heavy and not always clean," he says.
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