Woman loses legal battle to move husband's remains to Israel 20 years after his death


A widow's long campaign to have her husband's remains exhumed and reburied in Israel has been thwarted by a top judge.

Joseph Charazi was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, more than 20 years ago but his wife Anne claims his dying wish was to be buried in his homeland.

However four of his six children have "vehemently opposed" the exhumation, London's High Court heard today.

The Adath Yisroel Burial Society, which administers the cemetery, has repeatedly refused to consent to the remains being dug up.

Sam Grodzinski QC, acting for the burial society, said there were concerns that the process would be "unwholesome, undignified and demeaning".

Today Judge Leigh-Ann Mulcahy denied Mrs Charazi permission to mount a full judicial review of the burial society's stance.

Earlier the widow's barrister, Oliver Hyams, told the court that Mr Charazi was born in Israel and fought as a soldier for the country.

During his life he made it clear to his wife "that like many religious Jews he wanted and had always wanted to be buried in Israel", the barrister said.

At the time of his death he was disabled following a road accident in the United States.

And he lived "solely on the charity of the Jewish community in London" prior to his death on May 16 1993.

Mr Hyams said it was only Anne and their daughter, Tova, who accompanied Mr Charazi to hospital.

On the day of his death, mother and daughter claim he said: "When my time comes, I want to be buried in Israel."

But the barrister said arranging for his burial in Israel at the time "was impossible" because his widow could not afford it. So he was buried in Cheshunt.

But Mrs Charazi and Tova moved to Israel in 2011 and, due to the sale of a property, were now in a position to pay for the removal of the remains to Israel.

Mrs Charazi wanted to "fulfil her husband's wishes" and to know that, when she passes away, "she will be buried next to him".

Mr Hyams argued the burial society was acting "irrationally" in refusing to consent to the exhumation.

But Mr Grodzinski said there was deep concern about exhuming a body that had been buried for over 20 years.

He added that the society was "constitutionally boundE to follow the rabbinate's decision that exhumation should not be permitted.

The family was not unanimous in favouring exhumation and four of Mr Charazi's children "vehemently opposed" the move, Mr Grodzinski said.

The rabbinate was 'plainly entitled' to take into account the views of those children, he added.

Judge Mulcahy said: "I have reached the conclusion that permission (to apply for judicial review) should be refused."

She said it was a "decision of a religious body in a matter of a religious nature" and these are "generally not amenable to judicial review".

She added: "In my view this claim is long out of time.

"In any event, most importantly, having considered the alleged irrationality of the decision, I find it unarguable that the decision is irrational or otherwise unlawful."

She said it was "not arguable" to say it was irrational of the rabbinate and burial society "to take account of the fact the majority of the family opposed exhumation".

There was "no written statement of the deceased's wishes to be buried in Israel", added the judge.

"For all these reasons, and appreciating this decision will come as some disappointment to the claimant, I refuse permission."

The judge ordered Mrs Charazi to pay the burial society £5,000 in legal costs.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive