She Was Each of Us

She was my sister.

A mother. A wife. A friendly face in the community. She was each one of us.

In the mornings, she woke her kids up for school, davened, made the beds, and headed down the street to her husband’s store, ever the supportive team member in her marriage. She smiled at customers and took charge of the administrative tasks of the day. The small Chassidic community in Jersey City appreciated her kind face and strong personality. She personified warmth and fear of G-d. Three children bear her truth, her chein.

The morning of Tuesday, Dec. 10. After Mr. Ferencz had gone to the shul next door, a man came in to the store with a gun, extinguishing the light from her smile.

I paid a shivah call to Mindy’s family. When I exited the highway to Jersey City I did not yet know her. But I do now. Her sisters sat in a row with their traditional ripped clothing, the lines on their faces telling the deepest story. I sat and listened to what our Mindy embodied, what her mission in this world was. I felt like I knew her. I felt like I could have lived her story.

This woman was me. This woman was you. This woman is us.

Before leaving the shivah, I noticed her 4-year-old daughter playing cards alone in a corner. I watched her for a few moments. I slowly walked over and sat on the floor next to her. Eventually she looked up at me and, in Yiddish, whispered, “Mama is bringing Moshiach. That’s why everyone is visiting us.” Yes, Mamale, yes, she is.

As I tried to slip out quietly, platters were thrust into my hands — there weren’t enough freezers on the block to hold all the food. I escaped to my car out front and stared into the darkness. With tears on my cheeks, I thought:

It was a Tuesday morning. She woke her kids for school. She davened and made the beds, then headed down to her husband’s store, ever the supportive team member in her marriage. She was a mother. She was a wife. She was a familiar face in the community. She was each of us.

She was my sister.

Hamakom yenachem es’chem b’soch shaar
aveilei Tzion v’Yerushalayim