by Gutman Locks
Yitzchak wrote: Unfortunately my grandmother (who was not Jewish) passed away today. It is a huge shock for me, since she somehow played the role of a mother to me, and we where together the last 35 years. Even though she was not Jewish she did a lot for yiddishkeit [Jewish way of life], and helped me on my Jewish way. Her last will was that people should not buy flowers, etc. but make a donation for the construction of the mikvah [emersion pool] in our Shul. [Synagogue]
Since she is not Jewish, I do not know what is best to do for her soul. And I do not know if what happens to her now is the same as by Jews (I mean the neshama [soul] is above the body until the burial) will she be also wandering between the grave and her house for the next 7 days after burial. Where is she now before the burial? Me, as a Rabbi, I can answer the questions for a Jew myself, but for a non-Jew I do not know how it works. Perhaps you know more?
Gutman’s response: The fact is there is not much written about the details of a non-Jew’s journey after death. This much is known. The unrighteous gentile’s soul will be judged, punished, and then cease to exist.
To the opposite of this, the righteous gentile’s soul will be judged, and rewarded. Then it will come back with the Resurrection of the Dead, and will play a role in helping Jews to serve G-d. In the final stage, they will also have a share in the World to Come.
There are many opinions as to what will happen both in this world, and in the next. Will there be eating and drinking? Will there be physical form? What will be the ultimate disposition of creation? In any event, your Grandmother certainly seems to have been a righteous gentile, kept the Seven Commandments of Noah, and on top of this, it sounds like she was a sweet person, too. She will be rewarded for all of the good that she did, and whenever you want, you can send her a present by doing a good deed in her name. In fact, whenever a Jewish woman uses the mikvah that your grandmother helped to fund, her soul will move a little higher. May Hashem bless her memory.