The London Jewish community is furious at Mary Hassell, senior coroner at St Pancras coroner’s office, for dragging her feet when it comes to the release of Jewish remains for internment. Londoners said her behavior was “unlawful” and “beggared belief,” the Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported.
In one case, a woman needed to make 210 phone calls between December 20 and December 24 to release her father’s body.
Regarding such delays, Hassell wrote to representatives of the Jewish community in London’s Hackney suburb that “no death will be prioritized in any way over any other because of the religion of the deceased or family, either by coroner’s officers or coroners,” despite halacha requiring as quick a burial as possible.
Hassell also revoked a 2015 protocol on the guarding bodies. Previously, apart from clear cases of murder, she allowed bodies of Jewish people to be kept at a burial home in Stamford Hill, where they could be guarded by members of the community.
Rav Osher Gratt of Stamford Hill’s Adath Yisroel Burial Society said there were “no words to describe the frustration and the pain that I have witnessed in the last five years amongst vulnerable, bereaved families, through this woman.”