In an act of final closure, the family of Abraham Zelmanowitz, 55, buried his remains next to his parents at the cemetery overlooking Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives, a revered resting place for many religious Jews. "We are fulfilling his final wishes," said his sister-in-law Evelyn Zelmanowitz who was among a small group of family members who accompanied Zelmanowitz's remains from New York. "He's able to have a final resting place, which is something that we all had hoped for, for his sake and ours too, some place we could come to mourn him and pay tribute to him," she said.
Zelmanowitz, whose remains were identified late last week, was hailed as a hero and praised by President Bush for his act of compassion. Zelmanowitz, who worked on the 27th floor of the trade center's south tower, refused to leave behind his co-worker of many years, Ed Beyea, who couldn't descend the stairs in his wheelchair. Both died when the tower collapsed. "For us he's a big enough hope and inspiration for all mankind at a time of such unspeakable evil that someone could teach us how to behave, to feel compassion for one's fellow man," Evelyn Zelmanowitz said.
She said she spoke to her brother-in-law by phone soon after the plane plowed into the tower. Zelmanowitz told Beyea's nurse to leave the building, since she had children to think of, she said. "He was very calm. He said the air was clear and that they were waiting for a medical team to help evacuate his friend. That was the last we heard of him," she said.
In a moving ceremony in Hebrew and Yiddish held at a yeshiva religious school in Jerusalem, friends paid tribute to Zelmanowitz, a key member of the ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn and a regular visitor to Israel. "He was the epitome of kindness and good deeds," said family friend Herzel Schechter. "He was a real hero who gave up his life to help his co-worker."
Later a small procession moved onto the cemetery where a small bundle of Zelmanowitz's remains, wrapped up in a white cloth, were buried in a grave in front of his parents. The cemetery is considered an important place for its closeness to the site where the first and second temples of Judaism stood, in what is now the Old City. "He appreciated the holiness of Israel and this cemetery," Schechter said.