Which Prison Camp Do The 'Cadavers' In the 'Body' Exhibits Come From?
11/14/2010 - 08:27
Jonathan Mark

Excellent piece in The Boston Globe on what is wrong with all the "body" exhibits, those cadavars reduced to muscles, bones and blank stares, going around the country and advertised on the sides of buses.

No, these body exhibits are not as horrific as turning the skin of concentration camp victims into soap or lampshades, but its not exactly a proper burial either. Whatever happened to the concept of "respect for the dead" and resting in peace? Are these overpriced exhbits more educational or crass and commerical? Who are these "bodies" -- these people who have died or who were murdered -- and where do they come from?

Turning dead political prisoners from China, if that's where they come from, into a fast buck in America is yet another example of religious values being totally at odds with secular ones, the secular idea that after death we are worth nothing, or worse, only worth a profit to the people who might have taken that life in the first place -- the operators of Chinese prison camps.

There are some yeshivas that have rightly refused to take their students to these body shows. More schools, and individuals, should ask a lot of questions and get the sobering answers before buying a ticket.

A few months ago, I did a story on how two Jewish organizations, Chesed Shel Emes and Hebrew Free Burial Association, sometimes spend thousands of dollars to give a proper Jewish funeral, with all honors, to compete strangers, even and including a funeral that required a flight to Jamaica to bury a murdered Jew, someone who was new to the community. And one non-religious reader asked me, isn't that a waste of money, a whole minyan flying to Jamaica to give a murdered Jew a proper Jewish funeral? Of course that reader would surely give a member of his or her family a proper funeral.

To the religious Jewish way of thinking, every Jew is family, even if the first time we met is through the Chevra Kadisha. I have no doubt that secular insurance companies and a secular government, of either party, is capable of "death panels." I doubt that anyone of either party, who takes serious religion seriously, would ever be part of one.

Even if you decide that a trip to these body exhbits is a legitimate educational excursion, consider a gift to the Hebrew Free Burial Association, at least a gift equal to the price of your ticket to see these poor dead souls.

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1 little piece is missing from this article: People can also consider donating to www.ChesedShelEmes.com, the organization that arranged the flight to Jamaica, & the organization that also buried about 200 indigent jews annually. Thank You.
Dear Jonathan- I am on the board of the Hebrew Free Burial Association and a founding board member of a related charity, The Community Association for At-Risk Jewish Cemeteries (CAJAC). HFBA as you know focuses on burying indigent Jews with the full respect we would all hope to give any of our own family members, and CAJAC focuses on being a watch dog and ombudsman for Jewish cemeteries here in USA that are either already or at great risk of being neglected in the decades following the sale by its operator of the last revenue producing grave. In both cases, these are causes that are so important for all Jews (and non Jews!) to devote thought and time to, and I applaud you for using the Bodies exhibit as an opportunity to bring Kavod Hamet front and center in our community's conversation. Thanks. Gary
Dear Jonathan, Thank for this important article! And thanks for your continuous support of HFBA. We appreciate it greatly! Amy