Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Court Rules Israeli Transgender Activist’s Body Will Be Cremated

The body of an Israeli transgender activist will be cremated as she requested in her will, despite objections by her haredi Orthodox mother.

The Jerusalem District Court ruled Wednesday that the body of May Peleg will be cremated, the Hebrew-language news website Walla! reported. Peleg, 31, committed suicide, according to a statement released from the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. She made arrangements in her last will and testament to be cremated.

Cremation is forbidden according to Jewish law, although it is has become increasingly popular among liberal and secular Jews in recent years, particularly in the United States.

Peleg’s will requests not only that she be cremated, but that a ceremony be held and her ashes scattered at sea and under a tree to be planted in her memory.

Peleg’s mother, who in her affidavit described Peleg as her “son,” had requested an injunction to stop the cremation and that she “be given the body for burial according to Jewish law.” She argued that Peleg’s will “should be disqualified since my son was undergoing a deep mental crisis and was not capable of drawing up a will.”

Peleg wrote in an affidavit prior to her death, submitted to the court: “There are reasonable grounds for concern that if my body reaches my biological mother’ 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 married at age 20 and had two children before divorcing and undergoing a sex-change operation. The mother said Peleg’s ex-wife also wished to block the cremation.

While Peleg and her ex-wife initially maintained good relations, two years ago the ex-wife stopped letting Peleg have a relationship with the children, who are now 9 and 10 years old.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.