May 17, 2012
Conn. congregation, member settle lawsuit over non-Jewish burial
A Jewish woman suing her congregation over the burial of a non-Jewish black woman in its cemetery has settled her lawsuit.
Maria Balaban, 73, settled her lawsuit with Congregation Ahavath Achim in Colchester, Conn., on Wednesday after two days of negotiations in the middle of the trial, which began last week.
Balaban, a member of the congregation’s board of directors, sued the congregation for allowing the burial of a non-Jewish woman in the newly established interfaith section of the congregation’s cemetery, which she says should be reserved for Jewish members and their non-Jewish spouses and family members, The Bulletin of Norwich, Ct., reported.
Juliet Steer, 47, was buried in the cemetery in 2010 after dying of cancer. She was not affiliated with the congregation, and is the first burial in the interfaith section.
The agreement must be approved by Congregation Ahavath Achim’s board of directors and membership by June 15.
During the trial, the congregation had accused Balaban of filing the lawsuit because Steer was black, something Balaban denied. Balaban also dropped her request to have Steer’s body exhumed and moved to a different cemetery, according to the newspaper.