The local Jewish community has lost a young woman of extraordinary promise.
We mourn the loss of 20-year-old Gabrielle Beth Reuveni, who was struck by a car on July 15 as she was running in Pennsylvania.
The police subsequently arrested 48-year-old Dover resident Philip Cise, suspected of hitting Gabrielle Saturday in Palmyra Township while she jogged near her family’s vacation home in the Poconos. A witness reported that Cise’s car was swerving on the road.
According to her parents, Michael and Jacqueline Reuveni, Gabrielle was “a beautiful, loving angel that always saw the best in others. She took the world by storm.”
|Gabrielle Reuveni ‘reaching up to the world.’|
The news shocked members of the Jewish Community Center of Paramus. Gabrielle, who was valedictorian of Paramus High School in 2010, also was the captain of the school’s cross country and track teams and president of the National Honor Society. She also was named an Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar.
A student at Washington University in St. Louis, “she had many friends and touched everyone she came into contact with,” said her mother, a former Paramus schools trustee, noting that Gabrielle had attended the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County through fourth grade. “She wanted to make the world better for all.”
A student of international affairs, with a concentration in regional sustainability and a minor in Spanish, Gabrielle was a member of her university’s 2011 NCAA Division III-champion women’s cross country team. She took up running in seventh grade.
Describing her daughter, Jacqueline Reuveni said the image that comes to mind is “sunshine. That was the way she was. She had a big heart and she gave to everyone ““ she saw the best in everybody.”
Reuveni said she doesn’t know how many people attended the funeral, but she does know that Robert Schoem’s Menorah Chapel was “filled to capacity, with people standing outside. The line was around the block. It’s unbelievable for someone at the age of 20 – for someone so young to have so many people come.”
“Gabrielle wanted to save the world,” she said, describing the many outreach activities her daughter initiated, often working through Wunicef [Unicef at Washington University] and in the socially active Alpha Phi sorority.
“She was involved in philanthropy in many different ways,” Reuveni said, noting that her daughter’s interest in outreach began in high school and included many walks for charitable causes.
In addition, Gabrielle created joint sorority/fraternity social action projects. For example, said Reuveni, “They sponsored a day for underprivileged children from St. Louis to come to campus and have a day of fun.
“She was a sponge, giving up and taking in.”
Her favorite picture, she said, is one where her daughter has her arms extended, “reaching up to the world.”
Rabbi Arthur Weiner of the JCC of Paramus, who conducted the funeral, said some 1,000 people attended.
“Rabbis do a lot of funerals and can tell how many people are there,” he said, adding that there were “many, many eulogies.”
According to Jacqueline Reuveni, these eulogies were delivered by all four members of the immediate family as well as by a cousin, her daughter’s best friend from high school, and two friends from college.
Keren Abraham, a family friend, said “Gabrielle and my daughter went to Hebrew school and high school together. She was a very special girl, beautiful not only on the outside but on the inside as well. I spent last week with them and talked a lot to her. She was very sweet. ”
“She touched a lot of people ““ we all have something to learn from her,” she said. “It’s like a nightmare. I wish it could go away.”
This summer, Gabrielle was working at the Sigma Group, an advertising agency in Oradell, reporting to agency president Shannon Morris.
Returning from the funeral on Tuesday, Morris said, “To say it was emotional is an understatement. Gabby was a wonderful girl. We were lucky to have known her and worked with her this summer and last. The way she thought and reflected and processed – for anyone, let alone the fact that she was only 20 years old – never ceased to amaze me. We are all just grief stricken over the loss of such a wonderful girl and reeling from the suddenness and magnitude of her untimely death.
“Gabby was truly a star in every sense of the word,” Morris continued. “Our company was a better place having her here. She was a part of our family and we will miss her greatly, both for what she was and what she was going to be.”
Members of Hillel’s Angels, a Jewish motorcycle organization founded by Cantor Ilan Mamber of Wyckoff’s Temple Beth Rishon in 1997, also were at the funeral. Gabrielle’s father, Michael Reuveni, is now president of the organization, which promotes not only biking but educational and charitable pursuits.
Gabrielle is survived by her parents, Michael and Jacqueline; an 18-year-old sister, Jessica; a 16-year-old brother, Zachary; and her paternal grandparents, Ofra and Abraham Reuveni of Reseda, Calif.