By Rabbi Abe Friedman
Once again we find ourselves in a state of stunned disbelief after a desperate search for a missing young woman came to a tragic end.
From the moment word went out that 22 year old Devorah Stubin had gone missing, countless individuals and agencies switched instantly into a state of high alert, mobilizing their forces and working around the clock like a well oiled machine. Cold temperatures, the darkness of night and a dearth of information didn’t deter search teams as well over a dozen agencies pooled their resources and worked hand in hand during the 48 hour effort. People dropped everything, gave up time with their families and even their Shabbos as they looked for Devorah, hoping to return her home to her parents, safe and sound. Instead, the search culminated in the worst possible news and operations shifted into a different gear, as this time we prepared to return Devorah home to her Father in Heaven.
Our hearts ache for the Stubin family and their tragic loss as we mourn the promise of a future that will never be realized. But even in the darkest hours came reassuring beacons of light, as displays of compassion and goodness lifted our spirits and provided us solace even as we wiped away tears that never seemed to end.
Yet amid all of our grief, there is still so much to be grateful for.
Many agencies sprang to life when Devorah went missing, even though her disappearance took place at the onset of a long holiday weekend. Because of the carefully cultivated close relationship that we have built over the years with law enforcement and other crucial entities, our calls for assistance were answered promptly and respectfully, paying special attention to the family’s religious needs.
The prosecutor’s office, the medical examiner and elected officials all went out of their way to honor the wishes of the Stubin family and respect their religious beliefs, expediting the recovery mission so that Devorah could be buried promptly and the family could begin the process of grieving.
Over 15 entities searched valiantly for Devorah. They include the Passaic County, Bergen County, Maywood and Wallington Police Departments; the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, the New Jersey State Police, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Hatzolah of Passaic/Clifton, Chaveirim of Rockland County and Lakewood, and Shomrim teams from Boro Park, Williamsburg, Flatbush and Nassau County.
The over 1,000 volunteers who left their homes and families and searched for hours on end were a breathtaking reminder that we are united in our love for our fellow man
Devorah was remembered by her friends for her genuine happiness and incredible kindness and in the final chapter of her life, Devorah taught us another lesson, that of achdus and harmony. We are one with the Stubin family in their time of unimaginable sorrow and as we try to come to terms with this incomprehensible tragedy, each of us should appreciate Devorah and the legacy she leaves behind.