The Jewish community of Passaic, New Jersey, gathered Sunday afternoon to mourn the tragic petirah of Miss Devorah Stubin, a”h, 22. The nifteres had last been heard from late Thursday afternoon and, as word of her disappearance spread, hundreds of concerned volunteers from near and far rushed to search for her. The heartbreaking news of her passing came toward the end of Shabbos, as her car, with her body inside, was located in the Passaic River.
“Everyone is in shock,” Moshe Zahler, a family friend and Hatzolah member who helped search efforts, told Hamodia. “So many people who did not even know the family at all came down to help. It’s a tragedy that touched the entire community.”
At the levayah, held at the Jewish Memorial Chapel in Clifton, New Jersey, maspidim included Harav Menachem Zupnik, Rav of Bais Torah U’Tefilah; Rabbi Naphtoli Reich; and the nifteres’ father, Reb Avrohom Stubin. They all emphasized the nifteres’ purity of spirit and kindness, despite the many difficult challenges that marked her own short life.
“Her life was one of pain and struggle, yet she never complained and was constantly doing chessed for others,” Rav Zupnik told Hamodia.
The Rav said that Miss Stubin was exceedingly careful in avoiding speaking lashon hara and “always saw the good in people.” He described her as a “pure neshamah” and a model of “emunah peshutah,” showing great dedication to Yiddishkeit.
The nifteres had just completed college and was supposed to begin a job this week shadowing a handicapped child.
“She had just begun her life, but the Eibershter cut it short,” said Rav Zupnik. “We often get caught up in our own versions of what success is, but she showed us that true success is to find favor in the eyes of Hashem.”
Miss Stubin called her mother, Mrs. Shoshana Stubin, from her car Thursday afternoon saying that she was lost. She started heading home, but when she did not arrive that evening, the family began to worry and alerted the authorities.
As time went on and no significant clues were found, a massive search effort began to form. Teams of Hatzolah, Chaveirim, Misaskim, and Shomrim from Far Rockaway, Brooklyn, Monsey and Lakewood joined local volunteers and police in casing all areas in the vicinity where Miss Stubin had last been heard from.
A command center was set up in the nearby town of Maywood. Under guidance from Rabbanim, searches continued into Shabbos. Women from throughout the community organized groups to say Tehillim to daven for the safe return of Devorah bas Shoshana Rus. When there was a need for more local volunteers, dozens of men left shuls in Passaic Shabbos morning to help comb the area.
Late Shabbos afternoon, someone searching by foot reported that they had found a hole in a fence and the bumper of the car that matched the missing vehicle near a ravine that led down toward the Passaic River. Bergen county police sent divers to the scene and positively identified the car and body inside as Miss Stubin’s. Temperatures were so low that some members of the diving team needed to be treated for hypothermia.
“The entire community pitched in as if it were their own child,” said Rav Zupnik. “A tremendous kiddush Hashem came out of it. Everybody who was involved was taken aback by the show of achdus that this terrible tragedy brought out.”
Yehi Zichra Baruch
Updated Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 7:45 pm