New Yorker Goldie Taubenfeld, 43, came to Israel with her husband and two of her 13 children to attend her nephew's wedding on Monday. The following day, she and her 5-month-old son Shmuel were among the 20 people who lost their lives on the number 2 bus in Jerusalem.
Her 15-year-old daughter Batsheva suffered only slight wounds, according to a family friend, and her husband Moshe was not aboard the bus.
Taubenfeld is described as a joyful woman who was known for her chocolate rugelach, her love of others and her intellectual curiosity. New York Assemblyman Ryan Karben, who has known the family for many years, calls her death an "enormous tragedy." Karben is the representative for New Square, a close-knit community of Skver Hasidim in New York state, where the Taubenfelds are a prominent local family.
"We don't understand God's ways, we just have to accept them," Karben said Taubenfeld's 21-year-old son Yerahmiel replied when he heard the news.
Taubenfeld, who appears on her passport as Elda Zarkovsky, decided to travel - which she rarely does - because she felt her presence was necessary at the wedding of her husband's nephew, whose mother died a few months ago, said Taubenfeld's niece Baila Schwartz, also from New Square.
"She wanted to be at the wedding for the groom, to be there for him and the family," said Schwartz, 13. "They needed a little strength. She was a person of strength."
But it was not only Taubenfeld's family who gained from her presence, said those who knew her. She would often give emotional support, as well as a hot meal and a place to sleep, to mentally ill people and those who "don't have anybody, who don't have family," said Schwartz.
Taubenfeld took a special interest in helping people who had recently become religious, said Schwartz. "I just know that a lot of people are going to need her besides her immediate family," she said. "We're just sad."
Taubenfeld also stood out as being "an intellectually curious person" who took education seriously and spoke perfect English - anomalies in the closed, mostly Yiddish-speaking community of Skver Hasidim that her parents helped found in the 1950s.
Several people in New Square who were asked to speak to Haaretz appeared suspicious of the media, one of them saying in a Yiddish accent that he was not "interesting in newspapers" before slamming down the telephone. But Taubenfeld welcomed pertinent news, and would drop by the Karben home to find out what was going on in the Iraq war, Karben said.
Goldie and Shmuel were laid to rest in Jerusalem yesterday.
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