On Wednesday, an elderly Jewish man with no living Jewish relatives passed away in Ukraine in the town of Bila Tserkva. A Christian burial ceremony was planned for the deceased until a local rabbi heard about the news and notified United Hatzalah volunteer Naftali Rabinovich, from the Uman branch of the organization.
Rabinovich was in Bila Tserkva together with United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack, VP of Operations Dov Maisel, and additional volunteers on a special delegation sent by the organization to distribute generators to schools, orphanages, and medical clinics throughout the city. The campaign began on Tuesday as a response to the severe shortage of electricity caused by the war and extreme winter conditions.
Putting the distribution temporarily on hold, members of the delegation rushed to the cemetery where the deceased was moments away from being buried in accordance with the Christian ritual. After obtaining permission from the authorities, they immediately took the crosses off of the casquet and covered his body with a talit, before carrying out a Jewish funeral.
Team members recited Tehillim and said the Kaddish and El Maleh Rahamim prayers for the deceased. He was then laid to rest, as the volunteers put dirt into the casket as per Jewish custom, carried the deceased to his final resting place, lowered the wooden coffin into the grave, and then covered the grave with dirt.
Vice President of Operations for the organization Dov Maisel added, “United Hatzalah prides itself on offering help to everyone, Jewish or non-Jewish. In this instance, we paused our deliveries of generators for a short time so that we could help a man receive a proper burial according to his faith. It was an emergency call to provide the proper burial for someone in need. While most of our emergencies are usually focused on saving lives, we help wherever and whenever we can.”
“This was a very humbling and moving experience for me,” said CEO of United Hatzalah Eli Pollack. “We managed to scrape together a minyan (quorum of ten men) and recite the kaddish for one of our fellow Jews who was about to have a non-Jewish funeral. I am happy to have merited to participate in this act of kindness upon kindness.”