Connecticut: Jewish Woman Sues Over Burial Of Black Woman In Cemetery


A trial is set to begin in the case of a Jewish woman in Connecticut who is suing her own congregation over the burial of a black woman in the interfaith section of their cemetery.

Maria Balaban’s lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial Tuesday in New London Superior Court. She wants the remains of Jamaica-born Juliet Steer exhumed and relocated from the Congregation Ahavath Achim’s cemetery in Colchester.

The 73-year-old Balaban, who is white, claims the congregation broke its rule against burials of non-Jews at the cemetery when it allowed Steer to be buried in an interfaith section of the cemetery in 2010.

The congregation’s lawyer has said the lawsuit is frivolous and accused Balaban of suing only because Steer was black. Balaban denies being racist.

(Source: News 3)


  1. I’m confused the very definition of interfaith means that there are people of more than one faith interned there this sounds racial to me.

  2. If it is an “interfaith” cemetary, how is this even a Jewish cemetary, or a story of interest to YWN? According to their website, the “synagogue” in question is “CONSERVATIVE”, not Jewish.

  3. Since when do Jewish cemeteries have “interfaith sections”? It sounds to me like a Jewish cemetery decided to designate such a section, in violation of its charter, and this was the first non-Jewish burial there; hence the lawsuit. Even people who don’t keep many mitzvos want to come to kever yisroel, and not lie in a cemetery with nochrim.

  4. Why does the headline (in the original source) say “Women sues over burial of black women” when an accurate headline should have said: “Jewish women sues over burial of non-jewish women in jewish cemetary”?

    A guess anybody?

    Reminds me of the edited Zimmerman 911 call tape.

  5. The “Conservative” movement in Judaism is so called because they were more traditional than the “Reform” movement, back 100+ years ago when such names developed. Since they include many individuals, and their descendants, who “converted” but in a manner none of us would recognize, or intermarried without even a nominal “coversion”, the members of the movement at this point should be considered to be at best “safek” Jews.

  6. so conservative aren’t jewish???

    The “conservative judaism” religion is not the Jewish religion. Most members of that religion are Jewish, but an increasing percentage are not. (In reform the non-Jews are probably already a majority.)

  7. The congregation in question has a website. They control 3 cemeteries one of which has a section for “interfaith burials”. Perhaps “Balaban” is suing because the non jew is not buried in the designated interfaith section?

  8. Here are the facts: The cemetery in question belonged to an Orthodox shul, the Colchester Jewish Aid Congregation. In 1999 the Orthodox congregation agreed to merge with the Conservative one, and the merger agreement specified that “Congregation Ahavath Achim shall not allow anyone of the non-Jewish faith to be buried within the confines of Rows A through H of said cemetery or any other cemetery properties of the former Colchester Jewish Aid Congregation”.

    In 2009, as a result of the growing intermarriage rate, the board of Ahavath Achim decided to create a new “interfaith” section, for the burial of non-Jewish spouses, children, and grandchildren of Ahavath Achim members. For this purpose they chose an unused area of the Colchester cemetery. Mrs Balaban voted against this, because “it’s an Orthodox cemetery and my whole family is buried there. Ahavath Achim has a Conservative cemetery, and the interfaith section can be included there.”

    Juliet Steer, who was not Jewish and was not related to any member of Ahavath Achim (or to any other Jews), is the first non-Jew to be buried in this section, and therefore Mrs Balaban is suing. It has nothing to do with her colour, and it’s outrageous to even suggest such a motive. YWN did us a disservice by putting Ms Steer’s race in the headline.

  9. Let’s be VERY clear. This has to do with a question of interfaith burial and should/does not have anything to do with the race or gender of the other burials.