Francine Stein had no one to mourn her.
No family, no known friends. No one to cry when she shuffled off this mortal coil last week.
Hellman Memorial Chapels in Spring Valley, N.Y., called him last week after Stein died.
He gets calls like that when the funeral home arranges services for people with no known clergy.
Stein was one of those people.
It hurt his heart to think that he might be the only person standing over her grave.
“I was struggling with how to lend dignity to a service where the only people who were going to be there were professionals who had no connection to the deceased and I knew nothing about her,” he told ABC News.
“I discussed it with my daughter and she suggested that maybe she could get some of her friends out to the cemetery so this woman would not be completely alone at her funeral.”
His daughter, Ora Weinbach, put forth a simple request to her Facebook family.
“Who would like to join me at the funeral?”
On Aug. 21, about 30 people showed up at Temple Israel Memorial Park in Blauvelt.
Strangers carried the casket. Strangers said prayers. Strangers shoveled dirt into the grave.
Strangers wept for Francine Stein.
“I would have gone,” Gwendolyn Curry later told The Journal News. She worked at the New Monsey Park Home for Adults where Stein lived before being transferred to a nursing home.
Curry knew what the rabbi and the strangers did not — Stein once taught at the famous Juilliard School.
“A whole lot of people here would have gone,” Curry said. “Everyone loved her. She had a beautiful personality. She was a beautiful person in and out.”
Marquis Home Care, a local business that offered rides to the cemetery, posted a photo gallery of the gathering on its Facebook page.
News stories around the world have honored this remarkable kindness.
“It helped clarify what really matters,” Ora Weinbach told the Journal News.