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State pays $110,000 to settle Squirrel Hill rabbi's lawsuit

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Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, 3:58 p.m.

The state paid $110,000 in damages and attorneys' fees to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a Squirrel Hill rabbi over allegations the state funeral directors board interfered with his ability to conduct traditional Jewish funeral and burial rites.

An open records officer for the Department of State on Friday provided court documents to the Tribune-Review showing the amount paid.

Rabbi Daniel Wasserman of Shaare Torah Congregation in August sued the state in U.S. District Court in Scranton. He claimed the state instigated two investigations into his practices based on claims that he violated the funeral director law by conducting funerals without a license. No charges were filed, but the rabbi claims the threat of fines and possible jail time had a chilling effect on both his synagogue and its members' right to exercise their religious freedom.

The parties settled the case on Dec. 18.

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