Hundreds of strangers turned up in freezing conditions for the funeral of a hero Holocaust survivor after a rabbi’s plea on Facebook.
Zale Newman had visited 85-year-old Eddie Ford over the last seven months at a hospital in Toronto where he was suffering from cancer.
Ford said he wanted a Jewish funeral at the end of his life so Zale asked for those living near Toronto to ‘escort a Hero of the Holocaust for his final journey’ in a ‘huge PURE act of kindness’.
Despite posting his request online just the night before the service and temperatures of 13F, hundreds of people made the journey to pay their respects.
Among the mourners was Eddie’s long-lost brother, whose relative learned of the sad news on the Internet and informed him so he could attend.
Zale followed up on his post saying when he saw a line of cars the next day, he ‘assumed there was another funeral taking place at the same time’.
He said the random of kindness from dozens of strangers left him in tears.
Zale wrote: ‘ I sent out a late-night FB post and two emails to groups neither of whom replied. 3 people responded that they would join me. I was hoping for at least ten in total. When I arrived at the cemetery in a wind chill of -27, far to the north of Toronto, I couldn’t get in because of the line of cars.
‘I assumed there was another funeral taking place at the same time and I wondered how we would find Eddie’s resting place. I stopped people who were walking and they all said they were going to the funeral of Mr. Ford.
‘I had to park far away and walk in the freezing wind to join an estimated 150 people in a huge, warm circle of love, as we gave Eddie a sweet, proper, fitting, loving send off to the Next World.
‘We made a pathway to comfort his long-lost brother from a small town in Ontario, whose relative had found about Eddie’s passing on the Internet and informed him so that he could attend.
‘I am in tears just thinking about how humbling and awesome it is to be part of the Jewish People who on very short notice; would drop everything, leave whatever they were planning on doing, drive a long distance, to stand outside in an open field, on a super freezing, blowing, windy day to escort a sweet, little Jew from Budapest, who was unknown to almost all them, on his final journey.’
The Washington Post reports how Ford survived the Holocaust after he was hidden with a Christian family in Budapest when he was just six-years-old.
Zale told Global News: ‘It was his last request that he have a proper Jewish burial. We would sing together and he would tell me jokes and ask me questions. He’s left with just a few good memories and the rest from those days are very bleak and dark.’
For a proper Jewish burial 10 adults or ‘minyan’ are required and so Zale took to social media for help.
Zale wrote: ‘ATTENTION TORONTO JEWISH COMMUNITY! We need to have a minyan present tomorrow at noon for a sweet Holocaust survivor who passed away leaving no relatives other than a nephew in a US city.
‘Can you come escort a Hero of the Holocaust for his final journey. This is a huge PURE act of kindness. Wont take long but please dress warmly. Thank you so much.’
Following the touching service one person wrote to Zale: ‘Was an honor and privilege to be part of it. So amazing to see how many people care.’
Another added: ‘This is so touching and beautiful to see our community help one another.’