A somber feeling dominated ’s Sharp Theater as over 100 family members, friends, students and faculty members gathered Monday afternoon to honor the memory of late student Jacob Halle, who was on Route 202 earlier this month. Those who spoke in the brief but heartfelt ceremony in memory of Jacob asked the greater Ramapo community to keep the student’s memory with them.
Rabbi Dov Oliver of Rockland Community College, which Jacob attended before transferring to Ramapo College, remembered the late student as “warm and open; Jacob had a genuine and personable way about him. He was what we call, in Jewish speak, a real ‘mench.’ He said what he meant.”
He told the grieving community that “there is nothing to excuse God for,” in Jacob’s death. “It is not fair, his passing is inexcusable.” However, he said, those who knew the student should continue to do good acts in his honor. “We can still do good deeds in his honor, and they will still help his well being,” he said.
Those who knew Jacob best remembered him as very bright, opinionated, interested in politics, and passionate about his views. One of Jacob’s friends, Marni Sucher, a fellow Ramapo College classmate, said she met him her first day on campus.
“Jacob impressed me,” she said. “He taught me the value of my own opinions.”
Halle ranked in the top 20 percent of his Clarkstown High School graduating class in 2008. He was a second semester junior at Ramapo, a political science major, and a member of the campus’ Hillel Jewish community.
Halle died February 1, just two days after he was involved in a head-on collision on Route 202 in Mahwah, not far from the entrance to the college. Halle was reportedly unconscious at the scene of the accident, but was revived by emergency responders. He never regained consciousness. Police on Monday said the cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Rabbi Ely Allen, Ramapo’s Jewish chaplain, began the ceremony with a prayer “[asking] God to elevate Jacob’s soul to comfort the family.”
The memorial ended with thoughts from Jacob’s parents, who live in New City with their younger son. Marla Halle, with her husband by her side, grasping her hand, asked those in the audience to do three things in their lives, in memory of her son. First, to persevere to reach their own goals, and to channel Jacob’s “tenacious nature.” Secondly, they asked his friends to “find something that you are passionate about, and nurture your interests,” the same way their son did with politics.
And lastly, they asked the crowd to “be kind and caring” to others, as they knew their son to be.
Jacob will again be honored April 18, when a tree will be planted in his memory as part of the college's Remembrance Day Ceremony.