Congregation Poale Zedeck will not appeal the decision of Orphan’s Court’s Judge Lawrence O’Toole permitting the disinterment of the late Howard Tobin from the Orthodox congregation’s cemetery.
After failing to reach an agreement with Poale Zedeck earlier this year, the family of Tobin — who died in 1965 —sought a court order allowing them to exhume his remains so that they could be re-interred alongside those of his wife and son in the Star of David section of Homewood Cemetery.
Since the May 5 ruling, the Tobins and Poale Zedeck officials have been negotiating the specific terms of the disinterment.
Poale Zedeck initially refused to permit the exhumation on the grounds that it would constitute a violation of Jewish law, but is now resigned to proceeding in accordance with the order of the court.
“We have reached an agreement with the Tobins on the details of the disinterment,” said the congregation’s attorney, Joel Pfeffer. “Under the circumstances, we are pleased.”
Poale Zedeck relied on the advice of its own rabbi, Ari Goldberg, as well as Rabbi Shimon Silver of Pittsburgh and Rabbi Emanuel Gettinger of New York, in deciding what parameters would be acceptable in exhuming Tobin’s remains. All three rabbis are experts in Jewish law, according to Pfeffer.
“There will be experts on disinterment directly involved with the disinterment,” Pfeffer added.
After careful consideration of all the issues involved in this matter, the congregation decided it was not in its best interest to appeal the order.
“There are risks involved in appealing court decisions,” Pfeffer said, and we did not want to take those risks.”
The Tobins have agreed to cover all costs associated with the process, including the fee paid to the Orthodox rabbi who will supervise, said John Eddy, attorney for the Tobin family.
The Tobins will donate to Poale Zedeck the plot adjacent to Tobins’, which the family purchased years ago with the intention of eventually burying their mother there.
“That plot will hopefully then be donated to a person who can’t afford a plot,” said Shelly Frankel, Howard Tobin’s daughter.
After months of negotiations and court hearings, the Tobin family is relieved to finally have resolved this matter.
“We achieved what we’d been seeking for a long time,” Frankel said. “But we will really breathe a sigh of relief after we finally get dad moved and where we want him.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)