Dozens attend funeral for elderly N.Y. woman they never met

(JTA) — Some 30 people attended the funeral in New York for a woman they didn’t know.

Francine Stein was buried on Wednesday after a graveside funeral at Temple Israel Cemetery in Blauvelt, in Rockland County, New York.

The strangers attended the funeral after Ora Weinbach, a New Jersey high school teacher, called on people in a post on Facebook to join her at the service conducted by her father, Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach.

The post read: “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.”


Ora Weinbach said the post was shared by her friends, and then the shares were shared, which led to the turnout at the funeral of the 83-year-old woman less than 24 hours after the original post.

The crowd that attended the funeral service also included at least 10 men, enough to form a minyan, or a religious quorum, which enabled the rabbi to recite the Kaddish prayer for the dead. The mourners came from all walks of Jewish life, including an atheist. They also carried Stein’s casket and shoveled dirt into the grave as proscribed by Jewish tradition.

Stein lived in an assisted living facility for 10 years until 2014 after which she was hospitalized while battling cancer and then entered a nursing home, Gwen Curry, an assistant administrator and case manager at New Monsey Park assisted living facility, told Inside Edition, which first reported the story. Curry said that while Stein was never married, there were loved ones who would have attended the funeral if they had known she died.

The rabbi learned at the cemetery that Stein had been a musician and teacher at the Juilliard School.

Ora Weinbach later told The Journal News that the fact that “all the people who showed up took time out of their day” was powerful.

“I did nothing. I literally just wrote a Facebook post,” she said. “The people who came out in the middle of a random day, those are the people who did a lot. It was amazing.”