WATERBURY – In the early hours of Nov. 7, 2011 a passenger van carrying 11 students back to Yeshiva Ateres Shmuel in Waterbury swerved off I-84 in Danbury and rolled down an embankment. Fifteen-year-old Dani King and 16-year-old Eli Schonbrun, childhood friends from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y. were killed in the accident.
After the two funerals, attended by some 2,000 mourners, the King and Schonbrun families and the yeshiva got to work to create a living memorial to the boys. Monies raised will fund the writing of a new Torah scroll to be used at the yeshiva’s high school, as well as related community-service projects in the boys’ names.
“It’s nice to see everybody come together,” says Chaim Gewirtzman of Waterbury, who is helping to publicize the effort. “We’re getting so much help and support from the city of Waterbury and the mayor.”
The Torah scroll is a fitting gift, Gewirtzman says, especially because Eli Schonbrun was always up early to daven, wrapped in his tefillin. “As another gesture, the students have pledged to be on time for morning prayers,” he says. “Many of them have said to me, ‘Now, we’ll have our tefillin on in time.’”
For information on the Eli and Dani Sefer Torah Fund: www.waterburyyeshiva.org / (203) 756-1800
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