No mourners at Juilliard teacher’s funeral

No mourners at Juilliard teacher’s funeral


norman lebrecht

August 20, 2016

A call went out on Facebook for volunteers to attend the funeral of a woman who died, aged 83, in a New York home, leaving no family or friends.

Some thirty people responded.

new york funeral

The rabbi said at the funeral that he had just discovered that Frances Stein used to teach piano at the Juilliard School.

Remember her?



  • EaM says:

    A great story about generosity.

  • Sue says:

    How sad that a life can become such a solitary affairs. Speaks volumes about our lack of civility and community. Dreadful.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I’m not shocked. It’s very possible today to outlive your close friends and family.

    At 83 most of your contemporaries will be already dead and if you’re infirm in later years it is difficult to maintain relationships with the ones who are not.

    • John Borstlap says:

      What a terrible thing to say, and how true.

    • Una says:

      Even more shocking that she was Jewish as they are so good at keeping an eye on their own and very ‘family -minded’. Certainly my experience in London but maybe it’s different in New York.

  • Dietrich Buxtehude says:

    You can specify in your Will that you do not want a burial service. In any case, The Rabbi’s remarks were disappointing: even if you do not know a person, you can ask that they be forgiven their sins and welcomed into Heaven. A sad story that will be repeated thousands of times for this generations ” elder orphans”

  • Robert Holmén says:

    This story paints a happier picture of her later years. She did have relatives who would have attended but somehow after the dislocations of her final illness they didn’t get informed until too late that she had died.

  • Leon Levitt says:

    Persons who pursue the Hebrew faith do not believe in “heaven” or “hell” or the persistence of personal identity after death. One’s soul goes to God and is reincorporated into the wisdom of existence. Hence to expect the rabbi to speak otherwise is to expect a Christian take on life and death. The rabbi did as he should, to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, which speaks only of the greatness of God and not of the individual who is being interred.