Friends pay last respects to Holocaust survivor found dead alone in home

'There was the symbolism of a person who had gone through the Holocaust and rebuilt herself from scratch'

Yahrzeit candle (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Yahrzeit candle
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
About 20 friends escorted Dr. Magda Graif, 89, to her final resting place on Wednesday, after she was found in her Beersheba home on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, over a week after she fell and died on the eve of Passover, according to Ynet.
Graif was a pathologist at the Soroka Medical Center and a lecturer at Ben Gurion University.
"She was my teacher and established generations of students," said Dr. Nitzan Heiman-Neuman, one of those who took part in the funeral, according to Ynet. "She called us 'my children.' She had dark humor, we spoke with her about everything, she was a big personality even though she was small physically."
"Magda was a woman with a colorful personality but she loved purple. Everything was purple by her. Even when she taught us with slides the frame was purple, so I bought her purple flowers," said Heiman-Neuman, who brought a wreath to the funeral.
Rabbi Avraham Yosef, who called emergency services after Graif didn't answer the door when he knocked, paid last respects at the funeral as well.
"There was the symbolism of a person who had gone through the Holocaust and rebuilt herself from scratch," said Avi Boganim, who knew Graif through Yosef, according to Ynet. "She didn't rehabilitate and revive herself, but also revived others."
"Graif did not have any children, but she went with a lot of children who she revived. Therefore, many people are thought of as her children and owe her," said Boganim.
Graif was found just days after ZAKA volunteers were called to an apartment in Petah Tikva where a woman suffering from mental illness was trying to comfort and feed her 70-year-old mother who had passed away over a week before.

ZAKA volunteers have handled 35 incidents so far in 2020 in which those living alone have died alone. In 2019, 130 people died alone.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Gesher MK Orly Levy-Abecassis lamented that "they found another elderly person, 89 years old, who was a Holocaust survivor, lonely, who was a doctor in hospitals in Israel and a lecturer, and it turns out that she had already passed away on the eve of Passover, but this loneliness takes a precious toll and until the smell rose they didn't know about this most terrible thing."
"In order that events like this not happen again, not in the Jewish State and not in any other normal society, it is on us to ensure that all the public and social services know about these elderly people, these people who are in need and alone." said Levy-Abecassis. "Loneliness kills and it does so mercilessly."
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.