Beit Shemesh Says Goodbye to Bella

As a moderator of the “We are all Beit Shemesh” Facebook group, I am often asked to share posts within the group. Many times, it’s to share the fact that yet again, something negative was posted about my home town in the press. Today started off differently. Early this morning, I was “tagged” in the following post from someone named Rachel Steinmetz, whom I don’t know:

A 93 years old Holocaust survivor passed away in NY and is being flown to Israel right now for burial. She and her husband were both the sole survivors of their families, so she has no family in Israel to attend. She will be buried at around 3pm in Eretz Hachaim cemetery in Beit Shemesh. If anybody is available to attend it would be a very meaningful way to spend your time.

Feel free to share or tag anyone that might be available for this mitzvah.

There was no need to post it to the group, as it had already been shared four times before I even had a chance. I was hopeful that the call would draw at least ten men for a minyan, but I also felt there should be a showing of women as well, and I didn’t know how many women would show up  in the early afternoon. So I decided to go.

When I arrived at the Beit Hesped, (eulogy hall), there were only a few men and women there. But then a wonderful thing happened. By the time the funeral began, there wasn’t an empty seat in the room, and there were a nice number of men standing as well. The one person present who had actually known the deceased – a woman named Bella — had tears streaming down her young face as she watched more and more people fill the hall.  Her father spoke about Bella, recited some Psalms, and then shared some words of Torah.

We then proceeded to escort Bella to her final resting place. We were a diverse group of around 120 men and women, young and old, from various backgrounds, mostly from Beit Shemesh, including policemen, soldiers, native Israelis and olim chadashim.

The feeling in the crowd was one of warmth and respect. It was truly beautiful.

Thank you Bella for bringing us all together.

Funeral at Eretz Hachayim Cemetary
Funeral at Eretz Hachayim Cemetery

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About the Author
Naava Pasternak Swirsky has a bachelor's degree in psychology and is a founder and co-owner of AlphaPatent Associates, Ltd, an intellectual property firm. She is the mother of four and currently lives in Beit Shemesh, Israel. She is a co-author of the book "There's a Shark in the Mikvah! : A light-hearted look at Jewish women's dunking experiences "
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