“The moral obligation to honor the will is the family’s prerogative and there is no legal validity to other instructions. Cremation is contrary to Jewish law,” the haredi family's attorney – who referred to May Peleg only as a male – insisted.
Above: May Peleg
Estranged Haredi Family Tries To Block The Wanted Cremation Of Transgender Woman Who Was Once Their Son And Brother
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
What May Peleg wanted done with her body is absolutely clear, but that isn’t stopping the long-estranged family of Peleg, an ex-haredi transgendered woman, from trying to stop Peleg’s cremation, Ha’aretz reported.
The family has appealed to the Jerusalem District Court to block Peleg’s cremation even though Peleg specifically requested the cremation in her will.
The court is expected to rule on the matter tomorrow. in the matter Wednesday.
Peleg, who was 31-years-old at her death over the weekend from suicide, was a leader of Israel’s LGBT community.
Peleg gave her will to an attorney, Yossi Wolfson, the day before she killed herself. The will cals for her body to cremated and a ceremony be held. Peleg asked that most of her ashes scattered at sea; the rest were to be buried under a tree she asked be planted in her memory.
Besides her active role in the LGBT community’s leadership, Peleg owned a gay pub, “Mikvah,” in Jerusalem. (Mikvah is the Hebrew word for ritual bath.)
Peleg worried her estranged family would try to block her cremation and specifically asked Wolfson, the attorney, to stop them.
“Since I have no contact with my biological family and since I fear that after my death there will be those who try to obstruct my final wish to be cremated, using various arguments, I ask you to represent me in court and be my voice,” Peleg wrote.
Peleg also reportedly contacted the Aley Shalechet funeral home and crematorium and paid for her cremation before killing herself.
“In the request form, she asked anyone connected to the matter to honor her request. Her wish to be cremated was known to all her friends,” Wolfson told the court.
But Peleg’s estranged family not only refused to honor her wishes, the tried to gain control of Pelep’s body and have her buried as a male.
Peleg’s mother asked the court for an injunction to block the cremation would stop the cremation.
“I found out today that my son was discovered dead today. I’m from an Orthodox family and my son’s burial is very important to me. I ask that his body not be cremated or transferred to any agency wishing to do so. I ask to be given the body for burial according to Jewish law,” the mother reportedly wrote in an affidavit filed with the court.
“I heard there was a will,” the mother continued, “but I haven’t seen it. In any case it should be disqualified since my son was undergoing a deep mental crisis and was not capable of drawing up a will.…I had an argument with May in relation to his divorce and sex change but I never gave up on my connection with him. I visited him at psychiatric hospitals he was in and I talked to him on the phone.”
But May Peleg allegedly realized she was transgender at a very young age. Despite this, she joined the IDF as a young man and then, at age 20 got married. Peleg and her wife had two children (who are now 9- and 10-years-old). After several years of marriage Peleg divorced her wife and had a sex-change operation. Peleg’s mother claims Peleg’s ex-wife supports the estranged family’s attempt to block the cremation.
'Stopped feeling the pain'
Peleg wrote a letter to her friends shortly before killing herself.
“These words are written as a woman, but they are addressed to all genders. When you read this I will have peacefully gone into a state of non-existence. I slept and did not suffer, I slept and stopped feeling the pain and suffering that were my lot for most of my life. [As I child I was frequently bullied.] I lived on the street a lot, I used drugs and alcohol in an attempt to escape and dull the pain, in terrible loneliness, with constant rape, sexual exploitation and numerous sexual assaults,” Peleg wrote.
Peleg lived with his ex-wife after the divorce and the two were reportedly friendly – until two years ago, when her ex-wife decided to block Peleg from seeing the children.
“She didn’t see them over the last two years. She was very broken emotionally, she didn’t have the mental energy to go through a protracted legal battle, especially since she knew the establishment’s attitude to transgender women. She also didn’t want to put the children in the middle of it all,” Gal Friedman, her adoptive brother, said.
In an affidavit attached to the will, Peleg reportedly asked that her mother be blocked from gaining control over her body. In that affidavit Peleg insisted that her mother rejected and opposed her, and by refusing to accept the sex-change operation had forfeited her right to be Peleg’s parent. Peleg also noted there had been no contact between her and her mother for the last nine years. Peleg also claimed her mother had filed a financial claim against her and her ex-wife, and in that claim Peleg’s mother strongly lashed out at the ex-couple’s lifestyle. On top of that, Peleg wrote that her mother had sent her text messages that cursed her and called for Peleg’s death.
“There are reasonable grounds for concern that if my body reaches her hands she will subject me to a religious burial, with Judaism not recognizing me as a woman, even though I’ve undergone sex change surgery. This constitutes a lack of respect and an erasure of my identity,” Peleg wrote.
Yitzhak Dahan, an attorney representing Peleg’s mother, claimed Peleg’s will is invalid.
“The moral obligation to honor the will is the family’s prerogative and there is no legal validity to other instructions. Cremation is contrary to Jewish law,” Dahan – who referred to Peleg only as a male – insisted.
A psychiatric evaluation of Peleg done in September found her to be competent.