By COLlive reporter
On Monday night, Rabbi Dovie Shapiro was sitting with his children at home in Flagstaff, Arizona, preparing for a class when he received a frantic phone call a little after 9:00 PM local time.
“Our daughter is in the hospital. Can you find her?” the worried mother asked.
And thus began a whirlwind that hasn’t ended, during which the director of the Chabad Jewish Community Center of Flagstaff has slept only an hour and a half and is still going at it.
When news finally reached 4 Jewish families from Brooklyn that their daughters were involved in a car accident, one of the first phone calls they placed was to the local Chabad Shliach.
Driving in a rented Jeep Cherokee, the Boro Park girls were on vacation and turned left onto Route 77 from Route 377 in Holbrook, at 4:46 p.m., according to Holbrook Police Lieutenant Jack Arend.
Their vehicle was t-boned by a Kenwirth tractor trailer which smashed completely through the center of the driver’s door, New York Daily News reported.
Hindy Spira, 27, and Raizel Morgenstern, 23, were killed in the accident. Both were beloved teachers at the girls school Beth Jacob of Boro Park.
The two other women in the blue jeep on the journey that originated in Los Angeles were Miriam Meyer, 24, and Suri Mayerowitz, 26, with their condition unclear at this time.
The girls had spent Shabbos in Los Angeles with Rochie Engel, a friend who relocated from Brooklyn to California, VIN News reported. Mrs. Engel said that she had helped the girls plan their trip.
“I could not have asked for better friends,” Mrs. Engel told VIN News. “So smart, great personality. Funny. They would help in any way so gracefully and graciously. They had the kindest, purest hearts and souls.”
After hearing the news of the crash, Chaya Shapiro immediately returned home from her errands and Rabbi Shapiro headed out to the Flagstaff Medical Center, a major hospital and regional trauma center in the popular tourist city.
“One family of the injured were in touch with the hospital but wanted someone they can consult with on the ground to help them make the proper decisions and be of help,” he told COLlive.com on Tuesday afternoon.
While he was there, Shapiro was fielding calls from the Misaskim organization, David Fox from Chai Lifeline’s branch in Los Angeles, Rabbi Zalman Levertov, Director of Chabad of Arizona and other community activists stepping in to help.
“No one had correct information and it wasn’t clear what was the situation,” Rabbi Shapiro says, who has been in touch with police and medical staff. “There were also false reports about more deaths in the accident.”
Over the next hours, he was coordinating flights and accommodations for members of the families and being a point-man for the Jewish medical assistant organizations. “It’s very emotional and tragic that two young girls lost their lives,” he says.
Meyer is the a daughter of the famed Rabbi Yanky Meyer, founder of the Misaskim organization who was on a flight to Israel for a hachnosas sefer Torah ceremony in Jerusalem during the accident.
When he landed and heard the news, he consulted with this mentor, Rabbi Gavriel Rabinowitz, whether to return. He was instructed to remain and attend the auspicious ceremony and only after that to return to the US.
Rabbi Shapiro said that both young women are not in a life-threatening situation, although Meyer suffered serious injuries. “The families are asking the public to keep saying Tehillim for Miriam bas Gittel and Faiga Sarah bas Bracha Chaya,” he said.
The funerals of Hindy Spira and Raizel Morgenstern will be held tonight in Brooklyn.