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Rest in Peace

Vered Stein

It began during the Yom Kippur War, when Reb Moshe Speigel was appointed by the military rabbinate to identify casualties who’d been injured beyond recognition. Ever since, he’s made caring for lonely niftarim — the beggars, indigents, and anonymous sufferers who have no one else in the world to tend to their final needs and no one to mourn them — a mission for life.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

His death, like his life, was cold and lonely. There were no friends or family members to sit at his bedside during his final moments, to hold his hand and whisper some last parting words or say a few kapitlach of Tehillim for his soul’s journey. He was alone and abandoned in a cold hospital room as he took his last breath and returned his soul to its Creator. They didn’t even know his name. He was brought to Ichilov Hosptial in Tel Aviv without any identification, although a few people recognized him as the lonely man who used to sit at the end of Rechov Neve Shaanan, begging for alms. Paramedics brought him to the hospital after he collapsed one afternoon, but the pockets of his tattered garments didn’t contain a single identifying document or scrap of paper with a name or phone number. Still, he was a Jew who had to be given a Jewish burial, but who didn’t have an acquaintance in the world to provide it for him. Ichilov contacted Reb Moshe Speigel, the funeral director at Petach Tikvah’s Beilinson Hospital and director of Chevrah Kadisha Shomrei Hadas, to collect the body and prepare it for burial. Speigel, as every hospital in the area knows, is the chesed shel emes address when it comes to burying the abandoned, the homeless, the anonymous.

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