”Racism is at peak in America on Sunday at 11:00 a.m,” Rev. Martin Luther Jr.

Maria Balaban 72, is a member of Board of Directors of Ahavath Achim (Hebrew for “brotherly love”), a Sephardic Jewish congregation, established nearly 100 years ago. She has filed a law suit (The Root, January 8, 2012) demanding the removal the body of Jamican-born Black woman, Juliet A. Steer, from the Jewish cemetery. Juliet Steer was buried in the interfaith section of the cemetery in 2010 when she died of cancer at age of 47.

According to the congregation rules – a plot can be bought by a non-Jew as long as he is willing to make a hefty donation. Steer is the only Black person buried there. Another four plots are bought by White Christians.

The congregation’s lawyer, George Purtill has claimed that Balaban was motivated by race. Her lawyer Martin Rutchik denies allegations that she is racist, pointing that she worked as a social worker in the past – meaning a ‘social worker’ cannot have a racist nature!

Traditional Jewish laws prohibit burial of non-Jews in a Jewish cemetery, said David Berger, dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University in New York City.

“Jews should be buried with other Jews. There is such an expectation,” says Berger. Berger also added that interfaith marriages are increasing, and so are plots for non-Jews in Jewish cemeteries.

A court hearing is planned for February 29, 2012.

Last year, 300,000-strong Muslim community in Greater Toronto bought 14-hectare site at the southwest corner of Bethesda Sideroad and Leslie St., from Jewish Beth Olam Cemetery Corp., for $6.8 million to build their first Muslim cemetery. For the last four decades, Muslims have been using seperate sections within Christian cemeteries.

US: ‘No Blacks in Jewish Cemetery’ | Rehmat's World