A shocked and saddened Jewish community mourned a couple killed as they walked home from Saturday Shabbat services at Young Israel of East Brunswick.
Ari and Sari Horowitz, both 51, died and three others from the synagogue — including their adult son who was visiting for the holidays — were critically injured Sept. 15 when an out-of-control car struck them as they walked on the sidewalk along Dunhams Corner Road, where the synagogue is located.
The car was driven by 49-year-old Naglaa H. Armanious of East Brunswick, who was also injured but has since been released from the hospital, according to a statement released Sept. 20 by Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan. He also said a dog riding in the car may have been a contributing cause of the accident, in which the car hit a utility pole before striking the pedestrians just past the curving intersection with Hardenburg Lane.
The injured were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
In March 2011, another couple and their 19-year-old son were struck and injured by a car while crossing Dunhams Corner Road at Colonial Drive after leaving Friday evening Shabbat services at Young Israel. Mayor David Stahl told The Home News Tribune that township public safety representatives had met with synagogue members only the week before the latest tragedy to discuss safety in the area.
Ari Horowitz served as president of the synagogue from 2005 to 2007. It had just been announced that the couple were to be honored at the shut’s annual dinner in December.
“Ari and Sari were leaders of our community,” said Rabbi Jay Weinstein, who conducted a memorial service the next day at Young Israel that was attended by more than 500. The couple’s funeral was held Sept. 19 in Israel, where both their children live.
“They were people who lived by the strength and passion in their hearts,” said Weinstein. “They were always in Israel, thinking about Israel, and advocating for Israel, but wherever they lived…they were committed to serving the Jewish community.”
‘Most vibrant members’
Young Israel’s current president, Aron Adams, said the congregation felt like it “has lost two of the most vibrant members of the synagogue.”
“It’s like losing a family member,” he explained. “It was so sudden…that everyone, including myself, is in a state of shock.”
Adams said Sari was active in the shul sisterhood and its bikur holim group, whose members visit the sick. Ari was a coworker of Adams’ at Allstate Financial Services in Morgantown.
“He was a top insurance agent for Allstate,” Adams said. “We had a tremendous amount of people come [to the memorial service] from work. Even on short notice people came from Philadelphia, Boston, Maryland — all over the place.”
Adams also said he had visited Ami Horowitz, 27, and the other injured couple, Dr. Harris and Hadar Bram in the hospital; all, he said, were improving.
Ami Horowitz underwent surgery on his arm and leg and likely will need additional surgeries to repair his injuries, said Ben Stern, a childhood friend.
Keith Zimmerman of Kendall Park, a vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, said he became friends with Ari when both started their insurance careers together at Prudential.
“He was a real pillar in his community,” said Zimmerman. “He spent a lot of time in Israel, and his dream was to go to Israel and settle there. Ari always wanted to help people who were not as fortunate as he was. He was just a great person — a great family man, a great uncle who, after his brother was killed in a car accident, basically took in his brother’s kids.”
The Horowitzes lived in Israel part-time. Jack Silverman, a cochair of the Mitzvah Corps at the East Brunswick Jewish Center, recalled that Ari Horowitz had delivered backpacks in Israel for Yashar LaChayal, an organization that supports poor and “lone” soldiers. He later came to EBJC to speak about the soldiers’ reaction.
“He had no theological problem with coming to our [Conservative] synagogue,” said Silverman. “He wasn’t that kind of Jew. All that mattered to him was that we supported Israel.”
Stern said Ami was “devastated by the loss of his parents and concerned for his family and friends.”
“Our families have been friends for years,” said Stern, who spoke to NJJN while visiting Ami Horowitz. “Ami and his parents…always welcomed me into their home and as a child I played in the Horowitz home all the time.”
He said the family loved playing board games, especially Modigliani — an art auction game — and were very competitive. “They would go around the board and auction off anything,” recalled Stern.
Stern said that those in his circle had a saying about Ari’s ability to get things done.
“When you were able to get good seat at a concert or an upgrade on a flight or you weren’t being treated fairly at a restaurant and said something, we all called it ‘pulling an Ari.’”
He said Sari was “wonderful and kind and compassionate” and “loved her kids very much and unconditionally.”
The couple’s daughter, Natanya Tropp, her husband Chaim, and their two granddaughters, Miriam, two, and Meira, nine months, live in Ma'ale Adumim, Israel.