It was colder than -27 Celsius (-6F) in Toronto last week, when Eddie Ford was laid to rest in a Jewish cemetery.
When Eddie was six, he was hidden by a Christian family in Budapest and saved from certain death at the hands of the Nazis and their Hungarian sympathizers. Making it to Toronto’s Richmond Hill after WWII, Eddie maintained a quiet life. passing away at the age of 85 with no family that he ever mentioned.
Rabbi Zale Newman, a member of a Toronto Bikur Cholim, met Eddie (Efraim) last Summer, as Eddie sought treatments for cancer; Eddie asked Rabbi Newman for more information on blessings, prayers, and Judaism.
The Rabbi obliged, helped, and taught. Eddie sang prayers and added tefillin to his routines.
When Eddie passed away last week with no assets or family, the Pardes Chaim cemetery provided a plot at no cost; the rabbi thought that only he and maybe a cemetery crewperson would attend Eddie’s burial.
The rabbi hoped to arrange for a minyan, and posted a plea on Facebook.
And as the Canadian press reported, after the Facebook post, over two hundred Toronto area residents of all ages turned out for Eddie’s graveside funeral. Click HERE for more information. The posting even discovered a long lost brother from Pefferlaw, Ontario, who was able to make it to the funeral. Also his Facebook post garnered over 850 replies
Speaking of passings, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand (5-4) a decision by an Alabama prison to exclude a Muslim Imam from the death chamber during the execution of a convicted death-row prisoner. The justices of Jewish heritage on the court dissented. Although the prison does allow a non-Christian spiritual counselor to be with the prisoner prior to the execution, and to be in the viewing room, only a Christian pastor who is on the staff of the prison is allowed to be in the actual execution room in order to recite “last rites.” The prison said that allowing a person of another faith who is not already trained, or on the prison staff, would be disruptive.
Speaking of disruptors… Ehud Barak, 76, a former Prime Minister of Israel and Chief of Staff of the IDF, is in the cannabis business. A chairman of Intercure Ltd. (Assuta Village Tower, Tel Aviv), he earns $120K a year and stock options for the part time gig. Intercure is the holding company for Canndoc, which is one of Israel’s leading legal producers of medical cannabis.
Be sure to ask your Birthright Israel tour leader to drop by their grow labs.
Speaking of Grow Labs… The New York Times reports that Michal Zernowitski, a 38 year old woman who is running on the Labor Party list in Israel. Her background is haredi. The reporter follows her as she and other Labor Party candidate visit a speed dating / speed voting session on an Israeli college campus.
Speaking of service to communities, there are some volunteers in the Los Angeles area who want to have a volunteer Jewish ambulance corp of EMT’s (note: differs from paramedics). These Hatzolah groups exist in other U.S. cities; there is even an all female volunteer group in NYC. The Los Angeles Times reports that the application in Santa Fe Springs is getting severe opposition from the area’s fire department which is by law the exclusive provider of emergency ambulance services. Hatzolah is initially requesting a “county” license to allow it to transport non-critical patients to or from a medical facility but prohibit it from performing more than basic life support, like CPR. Their desire to respond with ambulances to emergency calls using lights and sirens is being opposed.
And speaking of Los Angeles, the popular DISNEY Channel’s show, ANDI MACK, featured an episode titled “One in a Minyan” on Friday in which the teenaged Jewish character, Cyrus Goodman (actor Joshua Rush), attends the shiva of his grandmother Bubbe Rose, and tells his friends – specifically his longterm crush, Jonah – that he is gay. He also – wearing a kippah and a mourner’s black ribbon, points out what a kugel and gefilte fish are. You may take issue with the teen angst JewFace of the episode, and men donning tallit during a shiva visit, but the point of the episode was to have Cyrus, learning of Jonah’s secret issues with anxiety, share his own secret.