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Unknown Jewish Man Receives Full Jewish Burial

Every so often in the life of a Chabad emissary, an unusual little story comes along that leaves a poignant imprint.

When a Jewish resident at a nursing home north of Boston passed away without any relatives, Amy Torf Feinberg of Torf Funeral Services placed a call to Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman. Did he want to organize a Jewish burial for the unknown man? Rabbi Schusterman immediately spread the word among his fellow Chabad shluchim, and Rabbi Mayshe Schwartz answered the call. “Whenever I hear about opportunities for an incredible mitzvah like this, I like to grab them,” he said. Between them they scraped together a minyan of exactly ten men, seven of whom were Chabad rabbis, to be able to recite Kaddish for the anonymous man.

“We only knew that he had been disabled, and had been in the care of various agencies since forth grade,” Rabbi Schwartz said. “By the time he passed away at the age of ninety-six, he had spent almost a century in the care of others.” The rabbis intended to try their best to give the anonymous man a proper Jewish burial; but not knowing his Hebrew name, they anticipated not being able to call him by his proper name in the appropriate prayers.

When we arrived at the designated burial site, we realized something amazing. It was a family plot with a shared headstone for a father named Hershel and a mother named Shaindel. Both had passed away nearly fifty years ago. But there was a third spot, which was open and marked, “Kalman ben Hershel” along with his date of birth.

It became clear that before his parents had passed away nearly half a century ago, they had taken the necessary steps to ensure that their disabled would receive a proper Jewish burial. “Sure enough all these years later we were able to call him by his name, Kalman ben Hershel,” said Rabbi Schwartz. “We were able to say Kaddish for him and give him a full Jewish burial.” 

Comment 10
  • Amazing story.

  • Daniel Pietruch (Green)

    BDE. Such a beautiful story. Thank you for giving such honor to Kalman ben Hershel.

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Gruber

    Wonderful and sad at the same time !!
    You have done a great Mitzvah!!! And since
    He can not thank you , it is even a bigger
    Mitzvah!!! This is what it means to be a JEW!!!

    • Olga Weiss

      Dear Rabbi Gruber you said it so beautifully. Thank you so much. I also thank all the Rabbis who gave Kalman such a burial.

  • Ron johnson

    This is a beautiful Jewish story.it has nothing to do with chabad except the home found a rabbi who happened to be chabad.

    • Pinchos Woolstone

      That is not a very generous comment 7 Chabad rabbis gave of their time.
      Why are you minimizing their actions?

  • it is called CHessed shel Emett

  • Knowing Reb Moyshe, this is no surprise… Thats his essence! Helping others! May the neshama be a maylitz yosher for the entire Boston and Chabad communities.

  • HOWARD S EDELSTEIN

    Wonderful, Heartwarming, what a an amazing mitzvah that you and your fellow Rabbis have done. Mazel and Simcha to all.

  • Shelley Scotto

    Wow this is a wonderful story

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