A teenage girl who was hit by a car while walking to attend Kol Nidrei services on Yom Kippur is in critical condition after undergoing several surgeries.
Orly Ohayon, 16, from Jacksonville, Florida, was rushed to University of Florida Health hospital. Her mother was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver hit the pair as they were crossing an intersection, and was detained by officials on Friday. He has not been charged, and police said he had a green light at the time of the crash.
According to Arutz Sheva, Ohayon and her mother were heading to Etz Chaim Synagogue. Rabbi Yaakov Fisch, who leads the congregation, noted the danger of crossing the streets in the area, especially for Orthodox Jews who cannot press the pedestrian button during Jewish holidays.
The international youth program of the Orthodox Union, to which Ohayon belonged, has launched an online fundraising campaign has been launched to gather contributions for her treatment. So far, they have raised over $4,000.
“She is the reason why we do what we do,” explained Rabbi Ben Gonsher, director of Institutional Advancement for Southern NCSY. “She’s excited about life and passionate about learning and mitzvot. She has a contagious enthusiasm for life and she inspires her friends and everyone around her.”
Todd Cohn, executive director of Southern NCSY, said in a statement that despite her condition, Ohayon hasn’t lost hope. “Being with her was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced,” he said. “When I asked her what message we should take back to her friends and supporters, she said ‘Tell them to keep smiling.’”
Jewish Teenager Clings to Life After Florida Yom Kippur Tragedy
Anne Cohen was the Forward’s deputy digital media editor. When she’s not looking for the secret Jewish history of Voodoo in New Orleans, or making lists about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she writes for The Assimilator. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism with an M.S. magazine concentration in 2012.