Nova Scotia helps Jews cope

Initial reports said as many as 50 Jews might have been among the 229 victims of the crash near Peggy's Cove, which created some worries that the small Jewish community in the province's capital of Halifax would be unable to accommodate the relatives of the Jewish victims.

But that initial fear proved to be unfounded: As of Tuesday, only seven Jewish victims could be confirmed and it is unlikely that more than 20 Jews perished in the crash, according to Jon Goldberg, executive director of the Atlantic Jewish Council, the Jewish umbrella organization for eastern Canada.

Among the Jewish victims of the crash, which appears to have been the result of electrical failure, was Jonathan Mann, the first director of the World Health Organization's AIDS program.

Local volunteers provided kosher meals and six rabbis made themselves available to grieving families.

Investigators have identified just one body so far, which makes it unlikely that traditional Jewish burial rites will be performed for any of the victims. According to halachah, Jewish law, a burial service cannot be performed without a body.

Instead, a nondenominational burial service will likely be held for any body parts that are retrieved.

A memorial service for victims was held at the Beth Israel Synagogue in Nova Scotia's capital of Halifax on Sunday.

Meanwhile, victims' relatives have begun sifting through the personal remains that have been recovered from the icy Atlantic waters.

According to Feldman, the family of one, Stanley Klein, has claimed an empty bag that contained his Jewish prayer shawl. That, said Feldman, has led to speculation that "when the plane was going down and he had no idea if he would live, he put on his tallis and davened."