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Ancient Jewish Law on Burial Upheld by Court in Richmond

The Schulchan Aruch, code of orthodox Jewish ritual, was backed by Judge William A. Moncure of the Richmond Chancery Court in a case hinging on weather the ancient code is still binding on Orthodox Jews.

The case involved the attempt of Isaac E. Goldman, Francis Goldman, Rebecca Goldman and Rose Goldman to remove their father’s remains from an Orthodox to a Reform cemetery. Exhuming corpses is contrary to orthodox law.

Abraham Goldman, the father, who had been a member of the Sir Moses Montefiore Synagogue, leading Orthodox congregation, had been buried in the family plot in the Montefiore Cemetery. After his death, the children joined the Beth Ahabah Congregation, leading Reform congregation in Virginia.

When Rachel, the mother, died, she was interred in the Hebrew Cemetery, controlled by the Reform congregation. The children tried to exhume the father’s corpse so that it could be buried in the same plot, but the Orthodox trustees refused permission.

The children thereupon brought a bill in equity to enjoin the trustees from preventing the disinterment. In court, Rabbis Edwin N. Kallish and Sidney H. Lefkowitz, witnesses for the children, testified that the Shulchan Aruch, which forbids disinterment, is outmoded and no longer binding on Jews.

Judge Moncure accepted the testimony of Rabbis Aaron Lefkowitz and Forman, Conservative, and Rabbi Podhelovitz, Orthodox, to the effect that the disinterment would be highly improper. He refused the injunction.

Leroy Cohen was counsel for the complainants and Aaron Gross of Philadelphia appeared for the defendants.

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