Maria Balaban, 72, and a white member of Congregation Ahavath Achim in Connecticut, has filed a lawsuit demanding to removal of the body of a Jamaican-born black woman, Juliet Steer, from the Jewish cemetery. Maria Balaban alleges that the congregation broke its own rules Juliet Steer was allowed to be buried in an interfaith section of the cemetery.

Steer, who died of cancer in 2010, asked to be buried there because she thought it was peaceful. A representative from the congregation claims that Balaban was motivated by race. Her lawyer denies allegations that she is racist, pointing to her past work as a social worker.

The congregation claims that Balaban, who serves on the its board of directors, initially agreed to have a section set aside in the cemetery for interfaith burials but changed her mind after Steer was buried there. Congregation rules say that plots can be bought by anybody with money, regardless of faith or color.

So, if it’s an interfaith cemetery, what’s the problem? Is it that Maria Balaban has a problem with a black woman buried there? Doesn’t this woman realize that Jews are marrying non-Jews, hence the need for an interfaith cemetery? This is much ado about nothing and one white woman’s quest to disturb the final resting place of a black woman. A court hearing is set for February 29.


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