Jewish Couple’s Efforts Help Shluchim 50 Years Later

When Boston-area shluchim were faced with the task of arranging a burial for an unknown Jewish individual, they didn’t know where to turn to. Then they found out that his parents had prepared for this exact scenario, 5 decades in advance.

By Yoni Brown –

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 near Boston passed away without any relatives, the funeral home placed a call to Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman of Peabody, Massachusetts. 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 had special needs, and had been in the care of various agencies since third grade,” Rabbi Schwartz said. “By the time he passed away at the age of ninety-five, 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, “For our beloved son Kalman.”

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 son with special needs 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.” 

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