Paying tribute to Hayley Sevitz Varenberg

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35-year-old Hayley Varenberg, who made aliyah from South Africa in 2009, was killed in the 947 bus crash in Jerusalem on first night Chanukah 2019.
Hayley sitting in the sun with her husband’s shadow in the foreground, as he takes the picture. This was the last picture of Hayley and Eli ‘together’.

By Lindy Diamond

35-year-old Hayley Varenberg, who made aliyah from South Africa in 2009, was killed in the 947 bus crash in Jerusalem on first night Chanukah 2019. 

She was on her way to a gathering of her husband Eli’s family for the first night of Chanukah when the bus she was on swerved drastically from its path and crashed into a bus stop, killing her and three other passengers and injuring at least 14 other people.

I remember Hayley from our student days. The only two Jewish students on our campus, we were both studying to become teachers. We had come from a Jewish world into a very secular one, and we reacted so differently to the challenge. I would talk about being Jewish, answering questions and debating, I wore my badge loudly, if that makes sense, ready on my soapbox. But Hayley really lived her Judaism, quietly and determinedly. She was modest, kind, considerate and non-judgmental. She was comfortable with being a Jewess. Younger than me but wise beyond her years. The world is truly poorer not having her in it.

Her family’s statement soon after the tragedy read as follows: “Hayley was dedicated to her family and her community, indescribably kind, modest, caring, and accepting of everyone. She is survived by her husband Eli, parents Alan and Pauline, siblings Belinda, Ariella and Joshua, uncle Aubrey, 10 adoring nieces and one nephew.”

Her funeral took place at Har Hamenuhot Cemetery, in Israel.

Her parents, Alan and Pauline Sevitz, sent the following tribute to the CJC in mid-January:

“The tragic passing of our beloved Hayley has left a massive void in our family.

“Hayley came into her own in the eleven years since she made Aliyah, facing life challenges courageously and with a smile. Having sat shiva in Israel we were privileged to learn about her dedication to her shul community, and to the boys high school where she taught. Her mentoring, kindness and warm personality touched so many people. 

“Hayley’s smile was her trademark and she will be remembered for it. Her family and friends will remember her for how she put everyone before herself. She has acquired the crown of a good name which surpasses all other crowns. (Ethics of the Fathers)

“May her name and memory be for a blessing. We miss you Hayley.”

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