Dozens of Israelis descended on a Tel Aviv-area cemetery last week after an elderly man was spotted alone, crying at his wife’s graveside with no one to attend her memorial service.
A stranger passing through the cemetery in Petah Tikva snapped a photo of the man, later identified as Binyamin Zohar, and posted it on Facebook, telling others about the widower who had nobody to mourn with him for his wife of 50 years, Viola, who died two years ago after an illness.
“Not a day goes by that I forget her. Not an hour. My house is filled with her pictures. Wherever I turn, all her pictures are there,” Zohar told Israel’s Channel 10.
The post was shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting dozens of people who never met Binyamin or Viola to drop what they were doing and head to the cemetery.
One student who showed up told Channel 10, “My friend and I were studying for a test and he suddenly said, ‘Do you feel like taking a study break?’ and I said, ‘What happened?’ and he showed me his phone and the message.”
“I’m going. No matter what, I’m going,” the student said.
Another man said that after he saw the post, “There’s no way I’m not going to be there [when I heard] the man is alone. … Not a chance.”
As he approached the grave surrounded by people he had never met, Zohar cried out, “Where’s Viola?”
“I’ve never seen them. I don’t know them. They’re like my brothers. I didn’t expect such a surprise like this at all,” he added.
In Jewish tradition, mourners need a minyan – a group of 10 — to say the mourner's kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, on the anniversary of a close relative’s death. The origin comes from the book of Genesis, when Abraham pleaded with God to save Sodom if he could find 10 righteous men.
Zohar got at least 10 minyans, maybe more, based on the throngs who descended on the cemetery.