A woman who left the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Borough Park was given a traditional Orthodox funeral yesterday by family members who had distanced themselves from her when she left the faith. Faigy Mayer, 30, jumped to hear death from the Flatiron rooftop bar 230 Fifth yesterday evening. One friend later told the Daily Mail she had been struggling "and that while other factors may have led to her suicide, 'her past and her family situation may have exacerbated it.'"
Mayer took the difficult step of leaving the community some five years ago, and was assisted by the outreach group Footsteps, which helps ultra-Orthodox Jews in NYC adjust to secular life. The transition can be difficult. In March, Mayer wrote on Facebook, "The next five years were incredibly hard but also incredibly rewarding. I've sort of lost all my family but I've made many amazing wonderful friends instead. I am so grateful for the life I have and the blessings therein!"
Mayer was also featured in this short National Geographic documentary called "Inside: Hasidism." You can see her at the 16 minute mark:
"I hope to be an inspiration for others who leave,” Mayer also wrote on Facebook in March. “It's been 5 years and I've made it!”
There was a corporate party on the roof of 230 Fifth on Monday night, but it's unclear if Mayer was a guest. The Post reports:
Her final words were to a bartender — whom she asked, “Where’s the east deck?’’ a law-enforcement source said. The question was laden with symbolism. Jewish people pray in that direction, toward Jerusalem.
After the bartender pointed, Mayer walked over to a 4¹/₂-foot brick wall along the roof and put one leg over it, then the other, the source said. The bartender ran to her and grabbed her hand, but she pulled loose and jumped, the source said.
Mayer had founded an Internet startup called Appton and created apps such as "NYCTips," a tip calculator, and an app intended to help those who left the Hasidic community find their way in secular society. Daily Intel reports that she was a graduate student at CUNY, "and had a bachelor's degree from Touro College and a master's degree from Brooklyn College, all in accounting. She also got a certificate in data science specialization from an online Johns Hopkins University program."
“She was bold," friend Becky Alexander tells the Daily News. "She told you what she thought. That was her best quality. She was always really excited about whatever she was doing." Another friend said, "She was hospitalized three times for depression. She was having some trouble."
"I think her family was on her mind but I don't think it is fair to just blame her family," another friend tells the Daily Mail. "She had problems from the inside and she was in a lot of pain. I guess she did suffer from mental illness but it was exacerbated from her life before. It's not an easy journey (to leave the Hasidic Community) it takes a lot of courage and she had a lot of bravery."
At her funeral yesterday, one mourner told Pix 11 that Mayer "asked her family for pictures of when she was a baby, and they didn’t want to give them to her." Another told the Post, "The family did not want the friends to show up to the funeral. It’s disgusting."
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.