COLCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) -- A trial set to begin this week in New London has some calling the Colchester woman filing the lawsuit a racist.
However, that woman says that is not the case.
Maria Balaban's family is all buried in one Colchester cemetery, which she says is supposed to be a Jewish-only burial ground. A designation she says was upheld when the Jewish Aid Society and congregation Ahavath Achim merged., but that changed when the cemetery committee established an interfaith section along Gillette Lane.
"An interfaith cemetery traditionally is known as a Jewish and non-Jewish spouse," said Martin Rutchik, Balaban's attorney.
Or someone of a significant or familial relationship.
Rutchik says the congregation violated the merger contract when it allowed Jamaican-born Juliet Steer to be buried there in 2010.
He says it's not her race with which Balaban has a problem, it's her religion: she is not Jewish.
"It wouldn't have made any difference if it was a white person, Rutchik said.
Rutchik says Balaban has been unfairly called a racist because of her suit against the congregation.
While Balaban's attorney was speaking on her behalf, she did hand News 8 pictures to illustrate how she says race and color have nothing to do with the fight.
The pictures show Balaban, who lived for years in Cuba, during her time as a social worker in Willimantic. She took 10 of her clients to Disney World on her own dime.
"The position of Mrs. Balaban was that no one should have been buried there because it was a prohibition in the original merger agreement," said Rutchik.
At first, Balaban had hoped to have Steer exhumed and moved, but now would be happy if the interfaith section was somehow separated.
News 8 was unable to get in contact with anyone from the Congregation.
The lawsuit is set to go to trial Wednesday in New London.
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