Manhattan Judge Orders Body of Jewish Woman, 105, Cremated


courtA Jewish American woman, dead and on ice since September, should be cremated, a Manhattan judge ruled on Monday, rejecting a family member who claimed the woman embraced Orthodox traditions in late life.Before Ethel Baar, 105, died on Sept. 11, she paid a Manhattan funeral home to cremate her remains before they’re scattered in Israel. But Baar’s great nephew James Pollak insisted that she changed her mind and wanted to be buried, in compliance with Orthodox Jewish customs.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jane Solomon sided with Baar’s estate, and read out loud from the woman’s June 2, 1999 will: “I desire that my body be cremated.”

Pollak lives in Israel and did not attend the hearing.

When his lawyer objected to Solomon’s ruling, she sniped: “He can be here when the ashes are dispersed.”

Cousin William Wolf testified briefly, insisting Baar wanted to be cremated and had no desire to be connected to Orthodox traditions.

A relieved Wolf said outside court he has no doubts that Baar’s true wishes are now being honored.

“She was a woman with a strong will, no one could change her mind,” he said. “She was a tough lady.”

Judge Solomon refused to hear from Pollak’s only witness, Ellen Gordon, the daughter of Baar’s longtime pal Bashka Schasberger.

Gordon claims she keep in regular contact with Baar, and the centenarian she told her 1 1/2 years ago that she changed her mind and wanted to be buried.

“I didn’t tell her to put in writing,” a downcast Gordon said. “I’m very regretful.”

{NY Post/}


  1. The poor woman nebach didn’t have the Zechus to come to kever Yisroel. To comment #1, The sad reminder is that if you don’t live like a Yid, you many not necessarily die like a Yid!

  2. Another very sad part of the story is that the Judge here, Justice Jane Solomon, is Jewish (???), or at least seems to have a very Jewish sounding name!

  3. That the judge refused to allow Mr. Gordon’s witness to testify, in other words, she did not want to even hear what we had to say, sure looks like an outright miscarriage of justice!

    Is there any way that this case can be appealed?

  4. To Yisroel Feldman,
    I agree, it’s appaling that a judge with such a jewish name is doing something like this… I think this case should be appealed to a judge with a more non-jewish sounding name like McDonald or something… that would definitely be more reassuring…

  5. Did anyone hear an update? A frum relative flew in from Yerushalayim for an appeal held this morning (1/3/2011 at 8:30 AM EST) in NY.

  6. If This Is What She Stated In Her Will Then the JUDGE Is Right. Many People Do Not Understand What A Will Is For. It Is To Allow You To Speak For Yourself Once You Have Passed Away. Verbal Communication will not do. If at some point she changed her mind then the family should have helped her change her will. Having a will is very important and should be honored.