Shoshana passed away earlier this month, having spent several months in and out of hospitals and nursing facilities. Her husband had opted to cremate her since he could not afford a burial.Cremation is anathematic to Jewish tradition, in which the body must be returned to the life-giving earth from which it was taken.

‘Talk About a Mitzvah’

Yocheved Adelman, hoping against hope that the cremation had not yet been done, called the husband to ask if he was willing to cancel it and allow her to have a Jewish burial, and he agreed. Rabbi Adelman then contacted Rabbi Levi Brashevitzky, program director of Chabad of Tidewater, the area where Shoshana had been living.

“I still cannot believe how Rabbi Brashevitzky pulled everything off so fast; he was absolutely amazing,” says Rabbi Adelman. “He worked with the family, the funeral home the Jewish Burial Society to make the burial a reality and affordable.”

Rabbi Adelman drove down to Tidewater (530 miles each way) with his 17-year-old son, and Rabbi Brashevitzky helped arrange for a minyan of 10 Jewish men to attend the funeral in a plot generously provided by the Bnai Israel Jewish cemetery.

Some of the funding came from a local family whose father had been cremated and wished to prevent the same tragedy from occurring to others.

“Talk about a mitzvah,” reflected Suzie, the sole surviving sister (Wendy passed away earlier this year). “I had no idea that my sister had remained in touch with the Adelmans for 35 years, but they kept the connection.”

Following the burial, the funeral party regrouped at Chabad of Tidewater where the mourners were served the traditional meal of hard-boiled eggs and bread, and some male family members put on tefillin.

“I am 50 years old,” says Suzie, “and this is the first Jewish funeral anyone in our family has ever attended. I cried and cried before the funeral, but not afterward, because my sister’s soul is at peace. Candice would be dancing if she knew how things turned out.”

And the Jewish soul of Shoshana bat Yosef was thus escorted to its heavenly abode with full honor and dignity.