BLAUVELT, N.Y. – The compassion shown by dozens of people who gathered recently in a Rockland cemetery to bury a total stranger showed not only what humanity is capable of, but the power of social media as well, says one witness.
The woman they had come to honor, Francine Stein, had lived for a decade in an assisted living center and then in a nursing home after falling ill with cancer, according to thejewishweek.com.
When the 83-year-old former music teacher died last week, Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach of congregation Shaaray Israel in Montebello was called to officiate at her graveside service, according to a report by lohud.com.
When Weinbach found out that little or nothing was known about Stein’s life, and that only he and the funeral director would be attending, he was deeply saddened, he told lohud.com.
He alerted his daughter, Ora Weinbach, who immediately posted the following message on her Facebook page, the lohud.com article said:
“Huge mitzvah opportunity. A woman is being buried tomorrow who has LITERALLY NO ONE attending her funeral, other than the funeral home director and the rabbi (my father). Who would like to join me at the funeral? I will be leaving Teaneck at 10:45. Free lunch with the rabbi after.”
Little did she know what kind of response her simple plea would bring; within hours it drew a multitude of sympathetic responses, including one from a Monsey man who shared it with the Marquis Home Care, a home-care service agency in Spring Valley, lohud.com reported.
According to Bassie Friedman, Marquis’ director of business development and a special education expert, there wasn’t anything to do but help.
The agency not only shared and re-posted Weinbach’s message -- as did many others -- it posted one on its Facebook page offering of free transportation to anyone wanted to help see Stein to her final resting place, Friedman said.
“How could we not?,” she asked Monday, “that sweet, little old lady … no family, no friends?”
Marquis, on its social media site, also posted this message:
"More than two dozen people took time out of their busy day to accompany a woman to her final resting place. A woman that not one person there even knew. This show of compassion is an example of what humanity is capable of."
In another post, the agency said it hoped what the folks did last week would inspire others to "random acts of kindness."
Friedman, who witnessed the “bittersweet” scene at the Temple Israel Memorial Park, a cemetery in Blauvelt, said there were “tears” as pallbearers carried Stein’s pine casket from the hearse and again when dirt was gently tossed into the grave.
“It was such a beautiful story, and we were so happy to be part of it,” she said.
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