Condolences to Rav Avi and Sara Schwartz

Dear Rutgers Hillel Community,

As many of you have already heard, Rabbi Avi and Sara Schwartz’s beloved daughter, Kiki, Yakira Leeba, passed away yesterday. Kiki, just a few weeks shy of 4, was a joyful and loved child who brought light and laughter to her family, caregivers, and all those who knew her.

Born with many health challenges, Kiki lived in a full-care facility. The Schwartz’s were deeply devoted to her, visiting frequently, accompanying her to appointments, and bringing the family together for birthdays, holidays, and just the average day. Although she has had many challenges over the years, her death at this time was unexpected. This is understandably a terrible loss for the Schwartz’s and their family.

There will be a service at:

Goldstein Funeral Chapel
2015 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08818
Sunday June 11th 9:30AM

Burial in Israel on Monday. Time TBD, probably 12:30 if flight is on time.

Shiva will be observed at the Schwartz Residence upon return from Israel on Tuesday.
76 Jefferson Ave
New Brunswick, NJ

Students are welcome to pay a condolence call. Times to be announced.

For some of you, this may be your first encounter with such a loss, and you may be unsure as to how to reach out and support the Schwartz’s during this time. Here are some suggestions:

  • When you go to the Shiva house, don’t feel you need to say much. You can start by sitting down and waiting for the mourners to address you. When they do, you can say something brief like “I’m so sorry for your loss”. Let them lead the conversation. You are primarily there to listen. Don’t feel the need to ask a lot of questions. Just by being there, you are expressing your care and empathy.

  • Keep your Shiva visit to around 20-30 minutes

  • If you find yourself tearing up, it’s ok. This is a very sad situation and it won’t negatively affect the family. They too are crying whether the tears are visible or not.

  • If you are unable to pay a Shiva visit, you can express your care and condolences by sending a short WhatsApp or email letting them know how sad you were to hear of their loss and wishing them comfort.

  • Although it can feel awkward or overwhelming to reach out to someone in grief, it is actually not as difficult as you might imagine. Just a short visit or note is all that is needed. You don’t need to say anything original or profound. The important thing is that you acknowledge their loss and let them know you care.

  • The student body as a group can think about gestures to help express solidarity with the Schwartz’s, such as a siyum mishnayot for the shloshim or some other community-wide project in Kiki’s memory.

JLIC and Hillel are here for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Rutgers Hillel staff for personal support. The Rutgers Counseling Center can be reached at 848-932-7884.

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים.

May the family be comforted amongst the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim and may Kiki’s memory be a blessing.