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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They stood for hours in the cold, but no one from the funeral home or the community informed them that the family had quietly arranged to have her funeral the next day in West Babylon, on Long Island. When Weiss learned of this detail Monday morning, it was already too late to get there in time for the funeral —and that angered him terribly.

“The last thing Deb would have wanted is for her father to bury her, “ Weiss said. But he praised Tambor’s brothers, who were sympathetic to him after their sister’s death.

“They actually came to pick me up from Monsey [N.Y.] and take me to New Square to the van where her coffin was held. They even thanked me for making her happy,” he said.

Many others who knew Tambor well also commented on how happy she seemed over the past few months, which is why her suicide was so shocking to everyone.
“Just two weeks ago she told me that she wanted to marry me and have more children,” Weiss said in a trembling voice.

She was happiest when helping other individuals who left or who were looking to leave their Hasidic communities, Weiss said. And indeed, since her death, many of her friends, both in real life and on social media, expressed similar sentiments of how she helped them in their time of need.

Sruli, a 22-year-old former Hasid from New Square who did not give his last name, said Tambor befriended him after they met at the Rockland branch of Footsteps, an organization of people who have left ultra-Orthodox communities.

“She was the first one to take me to the theater to see my first film and to WalMart to buy non-Hasidic clothing,” said Sruli said. “When I had questions, she was there to answer, and not once did she make me feel like she was doing me a favor.”

“She treated me like a mother would her son,” he said.

With reporting by Anne Cohen


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