Officials at Cedars Sinai Medical Center late Monday halted plans to turn over the body of publicist/CIA operative Michael Sands to a cremation company, despite his sister's insistent demands his remains be incinerated — an act that is against Jewish law.
“They are not going to release his body to the cremation company,” Rabbi Jerry Cutler, a longtime friend and spiritual advisor to Sands, told TheWrap.
The quirky press agent was the mastermind behind Mr. Blackwell’s annual Worst Dressed List of female fashion gaffes.
“For now, Michael’s body rests on ice,” said Cutler, who convinced hospital officials not to turn over his friend’s remains to California Cremations.
At issue is a bitter family drama that has pitted Sand’s teenage son Nicholas, 17, against his aunt, Barbara Promicell. The youth wants his father buried in a traditional Jewish ceremony; the aunt wants her brother cremated and, according to Cutler, his ashes put in a Boston Bruins urn.
Because of the youth’s minority status, his aunt gained control of the disposition of her brother’s remains and chose cremation. That decision was against the direct wishes of Sands, his son and the boy's mother, Sands' ex-wife Miriam Pell.
Promicell wants the ashes and urn taken to her home in Boston.
Cutler said there would be further talks with hospital officials about the fate of Sand’s body.
“My father never wanted to be cremated,” Nick Sands told TheWrap. “Today is the best day I have had in a long time.”
Sands, 66, was officially pronounced dead April 6 at Cedars after choking on a meat sample March 24 at Gelson’s, an upscale market in the Century City. The publicist was rushed to Cedars Sinai where he remained in a medically induced coma for 10 days before his doctors terminated life support systems.
To help facilitate Nicholas’ request for a burial, Cutler said he would seek a pro bono lot for Sands at a Jewish cemetery to help the impoverished family of his friend.