Monday, December 06, 2010

Woman who asked for cremation in will is backed by judge after relative said she must be buried 

A no-nonsense judge ended a three-month tug of war over the body of a 105-year woman yesterday - saying the woman's wish to be cremated must be honored.

Ethel Baar's body has been on ice in a Gramercy funeral home since shortly after she died.

In her will, Baar said she wanted her ashes spread in Israel. Her religious grand-nephew, James Pollock, sought a traditional Jewish burial - and the funeral home asked a judge to intervene.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jane Solomon put an end to the battle after reading from the will, in which Baar wrote, "I desire that my body be cremated."

"That, my friends, is all it is," Solomon declared. "If I were a cadaver, I would want my situation resolved sooner rather than later."

She refused to hear testimony about Baar's supposed change of heart, calling it hearsay that cannot trump the signed document.

Ellen Gordon, the daughter of Baar's best friend, hoped to testify that Baar ultimately agreed to be buried.

Baar's other relatives said they don't believe she wanted a burial.

"From anything I know about her, she had no interest in Orthodoxy at all," said her cousin William Wolf. "She was a woman of very strong will and no one could change her mind."

Baar, who died Sept. 11 at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale, will be cremated and, following her request, her ashes scattered in Israel, where Pollock lives.

"He can be there when the ashes are dispersed," the judge said.


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