Several hundred people gathered in an atmosphere of both celebration and sorrow to welcome to a Highland Park synagogue a new Torah scroll donated by the parents of a six-year-old boy killed by a car last year while walking to shul with his mother.
The scroll, donated by Yisroel Dov and Ruchie Kraus in memory of their son Chaim, was driven Sept. 25 through the streets of the town to Agudath Israel of Edison/Highland Park under a huppa as accompanying throngs danced and sang through the streets of Highland Park.
After arrival at the synagogue, the crowd gathered as the boy’s father inscribed the last letter in the new scroll.
In the Jan. 16 incident, Chaim, his mother, and his friend were walking on the sidewalk at 3:10 p.m. when a car driven by Shang Zhen Huang, 21, of Piscataway jumped the curb near the intersection of Raritan Avenue (Route 27) and Columbia Street in Highland Park, striking all of them.
Ruchie Kraus was rushed to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with critical injuries and taken into emergency surgery. Chaim, a first-grader at Yeshiva Shaarei Tzion in Piscataway, was pronounced dead at the hospital. The other boy was uninjured.
Police determined that Huang was speeding, and he was charged with a count each of aggravated assault and death by auto.
Shortly after the incident, borough officials vowed to make safety improvements around the site of the accident, the borough’s “triangle area,” which had long been a source of concern. The location is near the synagogue, Glatt 27 kosher supermarket, Yeshiva Shaarei Tzion’s preschool, Reenas Bais Yaakov High School for Girls, and a Montessori school.
Highland Park Police said because Route 27 is a state road, any changes have to be coordinated with the Department of Transportation. That process has been ongoing and changes to improve safety at the site are expected soon.
After Chaim’s death, his aunt Penina Kraus told NJJN that her nephew inherited his father’s big heart and had strength beyond his size and years. She said he was a child who liked “to surprise people with his love and bring them that extra ounce of joy.”