The fall semester began Monday at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway with the student body in mourning.
The first day of classes came a day after the funeral for Aaron Tepfer, 10, who was killed Friday in a boating accident in the waters of Reynolds Channel off the Cedarhurst Yacht Club. The Cedarhurst resident was aboard a floating tube attached to a boat operated by a friend’s father when he fell off and swam toward the boat. His leg then got stuck in the boat’s propeller and he was dragged under the water. A rescue team training nearby worked quickly to extricate him and he was airlifted to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway with severe trauma. He was pronounced dead early Saturday morning.
More than 1,000 people – including classmates and Darchei Torah faculty members – attended the funeral at the school.
Aaron, an athlete and piano player, was to start sixth grade on Monday.
The school made mental health and bereavement counselors available for students this week, and arranged for social worker Zahava Farbman, associate director of Chai Lifeline’s Crisis Intervention, Trauma and Bereavement Department, to speak with parents about ways to help children cope with the tragedy.
Following Aaron’s death, Rabbi Yaakov Bender, rosh yeshiva of Darchei Torah, sent out an email message in which he called the student someone “always worrying about the underprivileged.”
‘It t has been a very hard four days,” Rabbi Bender wrote. “But as difficult as it has been for all of us, it is nowhere near the pain of the Tepfer mishpocho [family]. In these very challenging days, we need to think about how best to be “nosei b’ol” – feel the pain of others. When paying a shiva call, you are going there to help ameliorate the family’s pain. Try to bring the level of conversation to a higher plane.”
Aaron is survived by his parents, Tully and Rochel Tepfer, a younger sister and five older brothers.