‘Miriam Avraham brought joy to all around her’

‘Miriam Avraham brought joy to all around her’

Miriam Avraham, a 10-year-old girl killed in a car accident in October, was mourned by classmates at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford.

Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford held a memorial on Tuesday for one of its own, Miriam Avraham, a little more than a month after the 10-year-old was killed in an automobile accident that rocked the Jewish community.

Her friends and family members spoke about Miriam, while Schechter teachers read psalms and Rabbi Ronal Roth of the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Cong. B’nai Israel led the assembly in the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Cheryl Berger, a Judaic studies teacher in Schechter’s lower school, described Miriam as “a dream student” who brought joy and love to her classmates, teachers, and parents.

Sara Stave, a Schechter Middle School Judaic studies teacher, presented the Avrahams with a scrapbook she and other teachers put together.

“Miriam Avraham brought joy to all around her,” said Elissa Maier, president of Schechter’s board of trustees. Through her “warmth and caring,” Miriam was a role model for others, Maier said.

Miriam “liked challenges and challenging others,” said her father, Moshe Avraham. He recalled the first time Miriam went skiing. “She didn’t give up,” he said. “She always pushed to be the best.”

Miriam was killed Oct. 19 when a stolen car tore through her family’s Honda at the intersection of New Bridge Road and The Boulevard in New Milford while they were on their way to a sukkah party at Solomon Schechter.

Miriam’s mother and 14-year-old brother, Schachar, were sitting in the front and escaped with minor injuries. A family friend, 14-year-old Eric Brauner, was in the back with Miriam and is scheduled to come home from the hospital next week after extensive treatment.

“His rehabilitation is going terrifically,” Helene Avraham, Miriam’s mother, said of Eric. “It’s just an amazing thing to see him get better. Each time we visited he’s stronger, more himself.”

Schachar and Helene Avraham look at a scrapbook about Miriam assembled by Schechter teachers.

Shortly before the accident, Miriam landed the role of Golda in the school’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Administrators dedicated last week’s performance to Miriam’s memory, while the role of Golda was divided among three of Miriam’s friends. Because of her love of theater, and at the request of Miriam’s parents, the school has set up the Miriam Avraham z”l Memorial Fund for the Performing and Literary Arts.

“Money raised through this fund will be used to enhance the arts at Schechter so that current and future students can share in the joy that Miriam found and shared through her participation in school performances and her love of writing,” Maier said.

The school is also planning a Tanach Study Memorial. Participants are to read five chapters of the Bible by May 20, when the school will hold a siyyum, a meal marking the conclusion of study, in Miriam’s memory. More information is available at www.TanachMemorial.wikispaces.com. Unique Custom Landscaping donated a tree to Solomon Schechter’s garden in memory of Miriam.

“The community was devastated by the loss,” said Roth after the service. “The community has done all it can to show their support, to express help to the family in a time of great need.”

Moshe Avraham called the support from the school and friends “a good step in the healing process.”

“It’s outpouring,” he said. “You can see a lot of people come nonstop since the accident day, people coming with food, with flowers, kids preparing songs….”

“It’s been an incredible source of strength for us, for my family,” said Helene Avraham. “When you’re part of a community you almost take for granted that you go to synagogue, you participate in activities here and there. You find out how important it is in a time of tragedy.”

Harold Saenz, the 22-year-old Bergenfield man who crashed into the Avrahams’ car, awaits an as-yet-unscheduled trial on charges of aggravated manslaughter, first-degree felony murder, second-degree aggravated assault, and third-degree burglary.

Moshe and Helene Avraham are following the case through an advocate appointed by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Helene Avraham said she appreciates the hard work of the prosecutor’s office and the police to make sure Saenz remains in prison.

“Nothing avenges death, especially the death of a child,” she said. “But I don’t want him to ever hurt anybody the way my family’s been hurt.”

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