Dozens of strangers answer call to honor Holocaust survivor at her funeral

Total strangers came to help the family so that there could be a religious quorum at the service.

By World Israel News Staff

Dozens of strangers came to honor a British Holocaust survivor at her funeral and constitute a religious quorum for her service in response to an online appeal, The Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported Friday.

Rabbis put out the call for help on social media and the JC echoed the call at 10 a.m. on Friday, two hours before the funeral for 91-year-old Betty Shane was to begin. Even though the Sabbath begins early in the winter, at around 5 p.m., dozens came to hear the tributes given by her small family and circle of friends and ensure that the mourner’s prayer, or Kaddish, could be properly recited.

Shane tragically died in a fire in her home. Her niece, Dawn, told the JC that her aunt had been “a character, a one-off, a poet and a fiercely independent woman who was still fiercely protective of her independence. She was not a shrinking violet; she wasn’t afraid of anybody.”

According to the report, when the Nazis invaded Belgium in May 1940, she fled her home in Antwerp as a nine-year-old with her aunt, mother and six older siblings. The aunt asked Shane’s father, her husband’s brother, to stay in the city until her husband arrived, and the delay cost them both their lives as they were caught and murdered in Auschwitz.

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The family settled in England, and she supported them during the war after learning typing and shorthand through a Jewish organization. She married and lived in Israel between 1956 and 1961 before divorcing and moving back to the UK, where she became an English teacher, having fallen in love with poetry and literature when learning the language as a child refugee.

Many students wrote to her long after their time in her classroom, her niece said, which gave her “such joy,” the JC noted.

Shane was very close with her father and never got over her loss, Dawn noted.

“Betty absolutely adored her father and had a very special bond with him. Throughout her life, she never stopped thinking and talking about how he used to cuddle and take care of her and how close that bond was. In many ways, he was the love of her life.”

Shane, the report said, “donated up to £500,000 to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in his name.”