Darwin award candidate: Jewish graffiti teen struck by train
The outpouring of grief for eighth-grader Ari Kraft, who was killed by a Long Island Rail Road train during a graffiti spree, couldn't be contained by a Queens funeral chapel yesterday.
More than 500 people packed the Sinai Chapels to remember the popular 13-year-old from Rego Park, while scores of friends of relatives were left to peer through glass windows.
"Ari's death is a tragedy, beyond the ability of words to describe or understand," said Rabbi Albert Thaler of Temple Gates of Prayer, the synagogue Ari attended.
"What can I say? What can anyone say?"
There were few references to the circumstances surrounding his death, with mourners mostly describing the teen as a nice young man.
"Ari was a good kid," Thaler said. "Sometimes good kids do bad things." The boy's body lay in a coffin covered with the Star of David. Israeli and American flags were draped alongside in a nod to his deep love for the Jewish state, where he spent his summers and was recently bar mitzvahed.
Dressed in black, his mother, Yaffa Simantov, wept uncontrollably during the ceremony as she sat next to the boy's father, Roger Kraft. "Ari was one of the kindest, sweetest boys I knew," said Alissa Eisner, whose son was a friend of Ari's. "He brought joy to all of us."
The headmaster of the Solomon Schechter School of Queens remembered how Ari won over classmates with his sense of humor.
"Ari Kraft was a great kid," said Martin Mayerson, the headmaster. "He was a good student, a fine young man. I will miss him."
Ari, who used the tag "Kos," was killed after painting graffiti on signal equipment along the LIRR tracks in Rego Park on Friday afternoon, friends said.
He tried to race across the tracks to get home in time for his family's Sabbath dinner, but was struck and killed by a commuter train.
Ari's family has vowed to sue the LIRR and the city for failing to do more to block access to the tracks.
Actually, if anyone should be sued it should be the family of Ari Kraft for not teaching him that painting graffiti was illegal.
LIRR killing machine
Parents of kid killed by train while doing graffiti on tracks plan to sue MTA