Court Allows Non-Jewish Widow to Transfer Body of Jewish Husband to Non-Jewish Cemetery


jewish-cemeteryA Supreme Court judge in Queens County permitted the non-Jewish spouse of a deceased Jewish man to exhume his body from a Jewish cemetery for reburial in what the judge termed a “non-denominational” cemetery, St. Elizabeth. The decedent was buried in the family plot next to his father. His mother and sister opposed the exhumation, claiming he wanted to be buried in accordance with Jewish Law.The decedent’s spouse acknowledged that she had signed an authorization for the interment of her husband “whom I know to be a member of the Jewish faith” in the plot owned by Calvin Herskowitz, her husband’s father. However, she testified that at that time she was emotionally distraught and grieving over the sudden, unexpected death of her husband, and did not know that the plot could not accommodate her remains so that she could be buried with her husband.

To determine the decedent’s level of commitment to Judaism, the judge heard testimony from friends and relatives. Among other interesting parts of the decision in Eirand-Herskowitz vs. Mt. Carmel Cemetery Association, the judge stated that: “Although it is not the function of this court to sit in judgment of anyone’s choice in the manner in which he/she chooses to practice or observe his/her faith, the court finds that these occasional, isolated acts of religious observance do not unequivocally constitute and support the fact that Jamie actively practiced his Jewish faith.” The judge also found that: “as the proposed final resting place for his remains, St. Elizabeth Cemetery is nondenominational, there is no evidence to show that his burial there will offend his Jewish faith.”

Halacha permits the exhumation of remains only under very narrow circumstances. Removing the remains to a non-Jewish cemetery (even one that is non-denominational) is certainly not one of these circumstances.

{JLPrespectives/Noam Newscenter}


  1. People do not realize that martial status takes precedence over religious beliefs. Marry out of the religion and there are many issues that never end,—-end after death.

  2. I think that, strictly speaking, it is a question if it was permissible to bury him in a Jewish cemetery in the first place.

  3. “Removing the remains to a non-Jewish cemetery (even one that is non-denominational) is certainly not one of these circumstances.”

    -Posek Harav Noam Amdurski

  4. Gee, you sound like an awfully kind person. So somebody who wants to be buried next to her own husband is selfish? You do know that his family didn’t make any provision for his wife, right? What kind of insensitive person are you. What would you feel if your spouse couldn’t be buried with you. Of course, I’m guessing nobody wants to hang with someone with your insensitivity, even in the afterlife.

  5. Moving a persons remains is a terrible desecration of jewish law and the pain the nishumu encounters over this is immense, and so how dare someone stick up for the wife and no our torah and haluchu does not say that a wife owns her husband are all you guys am iratzim or what?
    And regarding his deserving a punishment for marrying out well leave that for the bais din shel maila and its got nothing to do with a suffering nishumu, and we should have protested this removal process by all means, of course without violence.

  6. A jew is a jew forever and ever. His status never changes. He belongs in a jewish cemetery. He does not BELONG to his wife. He belongs to G….d. and he is the only one to judge him, now that he is no longer alive. The insensitive comments about, he should have married a jew….true…but you don’t know any circumstances and you are not the judge. Whatever the circumstance….whatever, he belongs in a jewish cemetery….sorry…

  7. I’m just curious. What are the aveiros that a yid can do and still get the resounding support of the chareidi community versus those that if chas veshalom done, gets them vomited out?