How Deb Tambor's Life Ended — and Started Firestorm in Hasidic New Square

Struggles of Ex-Orthodox Woman Recounted by Friends

courtesy of abe weiss

By Rukhl Schaechter

Published November 02, 2013.
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This story was translated from Yiddish by Frimet Goldberger. A version first appeared in the Yiddish Forverts.

Motie (Abe) Weiss and Deborah (Deb) Tambor, a young couple in love living in Bridgeton, N.J,, had a beautiful tradition: Each morning at 9 a.m., Tambor would make a cup of coffee and bring it to his workplace, an auto-repair shop.

Last week Friday, Tambor, 33, did not show up. At first, Weiss thought she had decided to sleep in a little later than usual. But when she didn’t answer her phone all morning, he grew concerned and rushed home. He ran frantically from room to room and found her lying sprawled on the floor of their bedroom, next to two empty bottles of pills and a half-empty bottle of alcohol, Weiss said in an interview with the Forverts. He immediately dialed 911, but when the ambulance arrived, it was too late.

Sgt. Adam Grossman of the New Jersey State Police said there was no cause of death determined yet for Tambor and an investigation was ongoing. He said Tambor’s body found at 2:36 p.m. on Sept. 27 in her home on Woodruff Road in Upper Deerfield Township.

Deb Tambor and Abe (Motie) Weiss
courtesy of abe weiss
Deb Tambor and Abe (Motie) Weiss

The death of Deb Tambor sparked an outpouring of sympathy on Facebook and social media from Jews who, like Weiss and Tambor, were raised in various Hasidic communities but are now no longer religious.

A divorced mother of two, Tambor grew up in the Hasidic community of New Square, N.Y. She suffered terribly after losing custody of her three children. Her family claimed that her depression was the reason she lost custody of the children, but close friends blamed her lack of religious observance.

Her own father testified against her in the custody battle, some of her close friends said. Both her father and her ex-husband’s new wife besmirched Tambor to the point where her own children did not want to see her anymore.

“She really hated her father,” Weiss said.

On the evening of Sept. 29, about 40 of Tambor’s friends gathered outside the funeral home in New Square, waiting to hear where and when the funeral would take place.


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