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Reporters on the Job

November 18, 2002



TRADITIONS OLD AND NEW: The Monitor's Nicole Gaouette attended the funeral service yesterday of three of the 12 Israelis killed in Hebron Friday (this page). In addition to what she reported, Nicole says she got an unexpected lesson in old and new Jewish burial traditions.

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Cremation isn't an option, and all burials must be in the earth itself. But land is scarce in Israel; the vast Givat Shaul cemetery is reaching capacity. Upon arrival, Nicole saw what looked like a three- or four-story parking garage jutting out from a hillside. It was, in fact, a multi-story cemetery.

"It echoed Japan's ingenuity in how to deal with a lack of space," says Nicole. Each floor of the concrete building had rows of rectangles filled with Israeli sand, thus fulfilling the need to be buried in the ground. "It was surrounded by pines and hills and was beautiful in the way that silence can be," she notes.

CLUES IN THE PINS: The Monitor's Robert Marquand waited for almost an hour on Friday with many of his colleagues for China's next group of leaders to be unveiled to the public. One topic of debate: Would there be seven or nine in the ruling circle? The answer was right in front of them. "It was only afterwards that we noticed that there were nine little gold pins, each with a number on it, stuck on the carpet to tell the leadership where to stand. In Beijing, that's the kind (and size) of clue you need to look out for."

David Clark Scott
World editor

CORRECTION

SCARLET PIMPERNEL : As some of our Pimpernel fans have noted, the Nov. 15 article "Elusive bin Laden stirs followers," indicates that the Scarlet Pimpernel was a historical figure who "saved French aristocrats from the guillotine." In fact, he is a fictitious character in a novel by Baroness Emma Orczy.

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