While 16-year-old Benjamin Lipsky walked with his family from Sukkot services to their home in Northeast Philadelphia, he was hit by a car, causing a massive head injury. The teenager died just hours later.
"I feel like I lost my right arm," said his father, Mendel Lipsky, in a phone interview a few days after the Oct. 7 accident.
The family had just finished attending services at Congregation Bais Midrash Harav, a small Orthodox shul on the corner of Algon and Griffith streets.
As Lipsky began to cross Algon Avenue, a car slammed into the teen, witnessed by other congregants who were also outside. He was transported to Frankford Hospital-Torresdale in critical condition, according to the Philadelphia Police Department, and pronounced dead at 3:05 a.m. on Sunday.
Lipsky, who attended high school at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, came home to spend Sukkot with his mother, father, 13-year-old sister and 18-year-old twin brothers.
"My sons, in the middle of the street, heard a sound, then saw something flying," said his father. "He must have flew like 20 feet."
The motorist who struck Lipsky was brought in for questioning by police, and was tested for alcohol and/or drug use. Since the toxicology test is still pending, a name has not yet been released, and police are still deciding whether or not to file criminal charges.
"I have a hole in my heart," said the teen's mother, Doris Lipsky. "Every holiday won't be the same again."
His family described Lipsky as a hardworking student and a helpful young man.
"If anyone asked him for a favor, he would be the first to run and do it," said his mother. "He never said no to anyone."
"He was our comedian," she continued. "He was always the life of the party. He was the one who brightens up the room."
Mendel Lipsky hopes that his three other children will look to Judaism to help them through this tragedy. "Luckily, we have children that have a lot of faith," he said. "So they're affected, but they're going to survive."
Doris Lipsky explained that in their home, the children mark their heights in pencil on a wall right near the kitchen. The letter "B" remains, signifying Benjamin's height — 5 feet, 9 inches.
His funeral service was held Oct. 9 at Montefiore Cemetery in Jenkintown.
"The cemetery — they never saw so many cars and people. They couldn't believe it," said his mother. "He was well-loved, and we'll miss him."
In related news, 70-year-old Mirian Biniashvili was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on City Avenue in Lower Merion on Oct. 9.
The accident came after Biniashvili and his wife, Tamara, attended daily Minchah services at Congregation Beth Hamedrosh, an Orthodox synagogue in Overbrook Park. Biniashvili died of head wounds suffered during the accident.
The car struck Biniashvili while he and his wife were walking back to his daughter's home in Wynnewood. The couple had been visiting from Queens, N.Y., for Sukkot.
The car apparently continued south on City Avenue after hitting Biniashvili near 77th Street. Police said they have received conflicting reports from witnesses. One person said that the vehicle was a white Cadillac Escalade; another thought it was a black pickup truck. Yet another witness said it was a blue minivan, according to Joseph J. Daly, superintendent of the Lower Merion Police Department.
Officers plan to send materials from the accident scene to an FBI laboratory for further analysis.
Police ask that anyone with information on the incident call 610-649-1000.