Orthodox couple killed in crash mourned in Monsey

Mourners gather outside the Satmar synagogue during funeral Mourners gather outside the Satmar synagogue during funeral services for Raizel and Nachman Glauber in Monsey. The 21-year-old expectant parents were killed in a hit-and-run car accident over the weekend in Brooklyn, but their baby boy, who was delivered prematurely via emergency C-section, survived the delivery. He died the next day, however. (March 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

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Several hundred mourners gathered at a Monsey synagogue Sunday afternoon to bid farewell to the expectant Williamsburg couple killed in an early-morning Brooklyn car crash as they were traveling to the hospital.

The couple, members of the Satmar Hasidic community, were killed in Williamsburg when a BMW slammed into the car-service vehicle that was taking them to the hospital.

The couple's baby boy was born premature and survived, officials said.

About 400 people gathered outside Congregation Zayoal Moshe Satmar in Monsey, where the coffins of 21-year-old Nachman Glauber, who was raised in the Rockland County hamlet, and Raizy Glauber, also 21, were placed in the middle of a circle of ultra-Orthodox men along with a podium, microphone and a few chairs.

An elderly man with long, white hair spoke first, rocking back and forth gently as he prayed. Two speakers broke down, wailing and sobbing. One man called out the names of the deceased: "Raizel! Raizel!"

Nearby, about 60 women mourned apart from the men as required by ultra-Orthodox tradition. Four older women were seated in front, wrapped in a blue blanket as they wept.

"It's a horrible tragedy," said Esther Herzel of Monsey, a friend of the family. "They are a very large, very close family. I heard the baby is going to be OK. But it's still an unimaginable tragedy."

The couple were to be buried together at a Satmar cemetery in Kiryas Joel. Jewish law calls for burial of the dead as soon as possible.

Earlier Sunday, a crowd gathered on a Brooklyn street to mourn the couple. Over a loudspeaker, a man could be heard sobbing as he spoke over their caskets.

Police said the driver and passenger of the BMW fled after the accident and were being sought.

The baby was in stable condition, said Isaac Abraham, a neighbor of Raizy Glauber's parents who lives two blocks from the scene of the crash.

Raizy Glauber was thrown from the car, and her body landed under a parked tractor-trailer, said witnesses who came to the scene after the crash. Nachman Glauber was pinned in the car, and emergency workers had to cut off the roof to get him out, witnesses said.

Both of the Glaubers were pronounced dead at hospitals, police said, and both died of blunt-force trauma, the medical examiner said.

The driver of their car was in stable condition, police said.

On Saturday, Raizy Glauber "was not feeling well, so they decided to go" to the hospital, said Sara Glauber, Nachman Glauber's cousin. Abraham said the Glaubers called a car service because they didn't own a car.

Abraham often speaks publicly for the different sects in the ultra-Orthodox community, which has strict rules governing clothing, social customs and interaction with the outside world. Men wear dark clothing that includes a long coat and a fedora-type hat and often have long beards and ear locks. Brooklyn is home to the largest community of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside Israel, more than 250,000 members.

The Glaubers were married about a year ago and had begun a life together in Williamsburg, where Raizy Glauber grew up in a prominent rabbinical family, Sara Glauber said.

Part of a family that founded a line of clothing for Orthodox Jews, Nachman Glauber was studying at a rabbinical college, said a cousin.

"You don't meet anyone better than him," she said. "He was always doing favors for everyone."

She said Nachman Glauber's mother herself just delivered a baby two weeks ago.

"I've never seen a mother-son relationship like this," Sara Glauber said. "He called her every day to make sure everything was OK. He was the sweetest, most charming human being, always with a smile on his face."

She added that, of him and his bride, "If one had to go, the other had to go, too, because they really were one soul."

With The Associated Press

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