- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

University of Maryland students were among hundreds who attended the funeral for student Nicole Schiffman, who was fatally shot while on a surprise visit to a childhood friend in Tempe, Ariz.

Miss Schiffman, 19, flew to Arizona last weekend to celebrate the 20th birthday of her friend Carol Kestenbaum, a sophomore majoring in education at Arizona State University.

As they returned to Miss Kestenbaum’s apartment Sunday after 4 a.m., they were purportedly shot by Joshua Mendel, 22, a Collins College graphic design student, who police later said was angry because Miss Kestenbaum’s comments to his 18-year-old girlfriend, who had been her roommate, resulted in a breakup.

Miss Schiffman and Miss Kestenbaum were buried side-by-side Wednesday in their hometown of Long Island, N.Y.

Robyn Geller, a former roommate of Miss Schiffman, said she had plans to travel with many of her high school friends to Acapulco, Mexico, during spring break. This summer she planned to live with many of these friends, including Miss Kestenbaum, in an apartment in New York City, according to the Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s student newspaper.

Often repeated at the funeral was a message Miss Schiffman had written in her 2005 John F. Kennedy High School yearbook:

“Wouldn’t life be perfect if girls didn’t cause drama, boys weren’t so confusing, nothing was regrettable and goodbyes only meant until tomorrow.”

Miss Schiffman was a member of Phi Sigma Sigma sorority. The sorority said in a statement: “Only Nicole would fly thousands of miles across the country to be there with one of her best friends to celebrate a birthday.”

A housekeeper said many members were among those who attended the funeral.

Police said Mr. Mendel had waited several hours outside the apartment. He had two guns and shot Miss Kestenbaum in the head and Miss Schiffman in the back as she started to run away. Mr. Mendel walked a short distance away and shot himself in the head.

Miss Kestenbaum and Mr. Mendel were pronounced dead on the scene. Miss Schiffman died about an hour later at a hospital.

No autopsies were performed on the women because of Jewish beliefs that a body comes into the world whole, and should return to the earth whole. A rabbi and assistant rabbi remained with the bodies, again because of a belief that a body should not remain alone until buried, as they were flown to New York to New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.

Miss Schiffman was the youngest of three children of Ron and Cheryl Schiffman, a lawyer and dental hygienist, of Merrick, N.Y.

Miss Kestenbaum is survived by parents, Rita and Ronald, and two brothers, of Bellmore, N.Y.

Michelle Rosenbloom, a family friend who had known Miss Schiffman since she was 2, said she was not surprised by the turnout at the funeral.

“When you met her once, you met her a million times,” she told the newspaper.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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