More than 15 people said kaddish for a Jewish woman with no known relatives on Friday hours after United Synagogue’s urgent social media appeal.
Strangers gathered at Waltham Abbey cemetery in Epping Forest at 11am to answer the call for a minyan to give Gloria Starr a proper send off.
“We were able to give Gloria Starr z’l, the dignified Jewish burial she deserved,” the synagogue movement said on Twitter.
“It was a humbling experience and showcased the Jewish community at its best: supporting each other. Shabbat shalom,” US added.
Gloria, reportedly in her seventies and originally from New York, died in hospital in August with no known relatives, and with no family to contact, her remains were kept in a morgue for several weeks. Graham, Gloria Starr’s colleague with Rabbi Ari Cohen
US hospital chaplain Rabbi Ari Cohen, together with the London Beth Din, confirmed Gloria’s Jewish heritage by researching birth records.
Funeral costs were covered by US, and the service was held by Rabbi Stanley Coten of Ruislip shul, head of the movement’s hospital visiting service.
The only person to know Gloria personally was Graham, identified only by his first name, who was a former colleague of hers who flew down from Scotland to attend the funeral.
Also joining the service was CNN journalist James Masters, 35, from North London, who paid tribute to Gloria.
“It was sad and also quite inspiring that you have a community when a call goes out that people are there to answer it,” he told Jewish News. “It was a very inspiring example of how the UK Jewish community can come together for good and for something positive.”
“Being jewish on social media is not always fun but when something like this happens it’s a very powerful tool. I thought it was important to answer that call and to be there,” he added.
Richard Verber, communications director for United Synagogue, said: “Today showed the Jewish community at its best, willing to pull together at the last minute to ensure someone they never knew could have the dignified Jewish burial they deserved.
“Our thanks go to everyone who came at such short notice to enable kaddish to be said. Thanks too to our Jewish Hospital Chaplaincy team, the United Synagogue Burial Society and the London Beth Din for their weeks of hard work behind the scenes to make today’s funeral possible.”