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Meir Beck was one of those gentle, unobtrusive souls whom residents of the Williamsburg community in Brooklyn remember with affection.

The local Jewish press described him a 42-year-old devoted Jew who liked to attend weddings and frequented study rooms in local synagogues.

“He was very quiet and smiling all day,” recalled Mayer Berger, a neighborhood rabbi who knew Beck.

In February 2000, he disappeared without a trace, and despite efforts by his family and friends to find him, Beck remained missing for 13 years — until the NYPD and the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner discovered he had died suddenly after showing up in a hospital emergency room.

The cause of death, according to his sister Rivka Fulda of Baltimore was a perforated ulcer.

Beck was not carrying identification, making notifying his next of kin impossible. When his body was not claimed, it was sent to Hart Island, the burial place of last resort for the missing, unidentified or unclaimed, officials said.

Over the decades, unknowns such as Beck buried on Hart Island might never be identified. But now officials are using a special fingerprint identification program, as well as DNA analysis, to identify remains and give families the option of a private burial.

Read more.

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