Soon after 10-year-old Miriam Avraham was killed in a car accident in October, the students of Solomon Schechter Day School’s middle school took it upon themselves to study the entirety of the Tanach in her memory.
Every middle school student and many members of the faculty signed up to read five chapters of the Tanach in their sixth-grade classmate’s memory, after the school announced the project at a memorial service in December. Students and teachers gathered at the New Milford school on the eve of Shavuot last month to mark the conclusion of that project with a siyum, a traditional celebration at the end of a period of study.
“This traditional practice honors the memory of our friend and student and helps channel some of our collective feelings for Miriam into the quintessential Jewish activity of support and community building: Torah study,” said Moshe Rudin, a member of the SSDS faculty.
Students representing the entire school read the beginning and endings of each section of the Tanach, symbolizing the community’s achievement. A poem Miriam had written, “The Young Oak Tree,” and traditional Jewish liturgy were included in the program.
Miriam’s grandparents, her brother, Shachar, and mother, Helene Avraham, joined the students for the siyum. Shachar, a student at The Frisch School, led the school community in completing the study by reading the last verses of the Book of Second Chronicles.
“We take part in this mitzvah as a kehilla, a community, to honor Miriam’s blessed memory,” Rudin said as the siyum concluded, “and to continue to ensure that those things with which she blessed us during her lifetime – her joy, her commitment to her Jewish heritage, her warmth and her caring – remain with us as a measure of comfort at her loss.”
Miriam was killed Oct. 19. 2008, 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 brother were sitting in the front and escaped with minor injuries, while a family friend, then-14-year-old Eric Brauner, seated in the back with Miriam, was hospitalized.
Harold Saenz, the 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. He remains in the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack with bail set at $1 million.