This paper seeks to answer the question of why, in the 21st century, Jews from the largest Jewish community in Slovakia have increasingly begun to prefer cremation over traditional Jewish burial. Importantly, Judaism views the act of cremation as a repudiation of faith in the afterlife, which incurs punishment in the form of exclusion from the resurrection after the prophesied coming of the Messiah. There is also a historical case against cremation, based on the Nazis’ burning of the bodies of murdered concentration camp inmates. Ethnological research shows that the main reason for this preferential shift is the Holocaust, one of the consequences of which was that part of the survivors lost their faith in God, who, in their view, had allowed the tragedy to take place. At the same time, many of these survivors wished for their urns to be stored at a Jewish cemetery. Since the start of the third millennium, there has been growing pressure to accommodate this wish. The leadership of the Bratislava Jewish Religious Community (JRC) debated the issue in 2007, ultimately deciding to establish a columbarium on the premises of one of the city’s two Jewish cemeteries. This paper’s paradoxical conclusion is that, by opting for cremation, some members of the community (and their descendants) renounce Judaism while simultaneously reaffirming their Jewish identity and communal belonging.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.