A 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.”