A man is suing Skokie Hospital in Skokie, Illinois, alleging that staffers cremated his amputated leg instead of preserving it as he claims to have requested.
Moshe Lefkowitz, an Orthodox Jew, charges that he told both a rabbi and hospital staffers that he wanted his left leg, which was amputated below the knee in March 2011, preserved for proper burial, according to the Jewish Daily Forward.
Lefkowitz, 43, said that he made the request in accordance with his religious beliefs.
The hospital has denied wrongdoing, saying that the patient signed release forms allowing for the leg’s disposal, but Lefkowitz argues that he is legally blind and that the documents he signed were not fully explained to him.
Both parties declined to speak in-depth on the matter when asked for comment by the Chicago Tribune.
While Lefkowitz’s first $100,000 lawsuit against the rabbi and hospital was dismissed last year, an appeals court overturned the judge’s decision and sent the case back for trial.
At the center of the debate are theological issues governing how severed appendages are handled. Rabbi Yona Reiss of the Chicago Rabbinical Council told the Tribune that there are numerous reasons why body parts that are amputated would be preserved, including the belief that bodies are one day resurrected and reconnected with the human soul.
“There’s always the idea that it’s nice for a person to keep all their parts together so that when the Messiah comes and there’s a resurrection of the dead, the individual will have all his individual parts located within close proximity,” he explained.
The Tribune added that Lefkowitz, his father and his brother currently face two counts each of felony theft and one count of running a continuing financial criminal enterprise in a separate and unrelated case surrounding claims that they stole more than $10,000 from the Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation, which Lefkowitz’s father once led.
The case followers a battle over control of the synagogue.
(H/T: The Jewish Daily Forward)
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