By Sarah Cohen
“Baruch Dayan HaEmes. They found Devorah.”
The words burned through my phone as I woke up in the middle of the night hoping the text was good news. This was not the news I was waiting to hear. “No. It can’t be true. It must be a mistake,” I replied. “Are they sure?”
I sobbed loudly as the reality of the truth sank in. For 48 hours I had been fervently praying, crying for the safe return of my dear friend, and now I was crying for our loss. Devorah was found inside her car which was submerged in the Passaic River, a result of a tragic accident.
Devorah Stubin and I met when she moved to Passaic many years ago. Though we never attended the same school, somehow our friendship blossomed. We spent Shabbat afternoons together, family barbeques and became Sunday morning play date buddies. I was drawn to her sweet and fun nature and I quickly learned more about her and her hobbies as we got to know each other.
Always with a smile on her face, Devorah was the happiest person that I have ever come in contact with. No matter the situation or what life circumstance she was dealing with, she radiated joy. She was a pure soul, with the ability only to spread love and kindness to the people in her life.
I remember sitting in her room as a little girl and listening to her interesting stories that she would make up using her dolls as props. I was fascinated by my friend who had such a great imagination and happy nature, even at such a young age.
When Devorah came to wish me a mazal tov at my engagement party I felt her true expression of love through her words and her smile. She had no ulterior motives; no reason to be there other than to rejoice with me in my simcha. She hardly knew anyone that was there but she took time out of her day to let me know how happy she was for me. As a true friend, she wanted to share this special moment with me.
Devorah was always looking to help other people and make them feel good. People could always count on her for a smile, a kind word or a genuine “how are you?” to make their day just a little bit brighter. You didn’t have to know her to get a grin or a thoughtful blessing for a good day. There was no such thing as a stranger in Devorah’s book; she felt that all people were deserving of her warm wishes.
Devorah lived a short life when measured by numbers, but she lived an incredibly long one when measured by her acts of kindness and in the love and happiness that she spread. She left a mark on this world and her existence touched thousands of people’s hearts. Devorah accomplished more in her short life than many accomplish in four times the years that she had.
People who had the privilege of knowing Devorah experienced her warmth and were inspired by her. She was a role model for the rest of us.
In a world full of ersatz friends, Devorah was a true friend, a shining light of joy in people’s lives and a true example of a happy and fulfilled person.
We will miss you Devorah. We will miss your smile and your laugh and we will cry over the loss of your sincere and loving nature. We will attempt to spread your light and joy to the world and we only pray that we can successfully follow in your footsteps.
This article first appeared at AISH.com.
To those who knew her, Devorah Stubin gave more to others in her short life than anyone thought possible. She gave of her time, of her spirit and of her good cheer. Her own personal challenges were forgotten when she saw that friends, neighbors or even strangers needed a helping hand or a friendly smile. Giving to others was her defining characteristic.
The sad story of her death need not end her giving. She has left a precious legacy even to those of us who only knew her through the dramatic story of her untimely and tragic passing. It is a legacy of caring, of commitment and of community. It is a legacy of diverse people coming together, desperately clinging to the hope that this was not the end – that the wonderful story of giving that she was writing every day of her life would continue.
Hatzolah, an international network of volunteer ambulance corps, spearheaded the search for Devorah together with local law enforcement and other community groups. Now that the search is over, Devorah’s shul, Bais Torah U’Tfilah in Passaic, NJ, together with her family, wish to dedicate a new ambulance to their local Hatzolah in her memory. In this way, Devorah’s legacy will come alive each time a Hatzolah volunteer drops whatever he is doing to help someone in need.
Devorah taught us how to give. With this ambulance we will show her, her family and her community that we have learned that lesson well. It is the least we can do to keep her legacy of giving alive.
Help continue her legacy, Donate today at www.DevorahsAmbulance.org.