Jewish social worker shot dead in Vermont

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — A murdered Jewish social worker in Vermont was remembered as a lover of children and a “beautiful, beautiful individual” at a vigil in her honor.

Lara Sobel, 48, of Montpelier, Vermont, was shot to death on Aug. 7 outside her Barre workplace, where she was employed the past 14 years by the state Department for Children and Families. The governor ordered the state flag to fly at half-mast in her honor.

The alleged killer, Jody Herring, was apprehended by eyewitnesses immediately after the shooting and arrested.

Herring, 40, pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge of first-degree murder and is being held without bail at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, according to WFFF, a CNN affiliate. Herring reportedly believed that Sobel was responsible for Herring losing custody of her 9-year-old daughter several weeks ago. The child is in state custody.


Herring is also a major suspect in the murder of two cousins and their mother, who were found dead in their home on Saturday.

Sobel was a member of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Montpelier, where the eldest of her two daughters recently marked her bat mitzvah, according to The Forward.

Barney Bloom, a former president of the synagogue, told The Forward that Sobel’s death, which happened just hours before the start of Shabbat, “is an unprecedented catastrophe” and “a loss of innocence.”

Sobel, a native of Long Island, New York, was known as a fierce advocate for children.

At the vigil and march, which attracted approximately 300 people on Saturday, Joseph Faryniarz, the cousin of Sobel’s husband, said, “Lara was a beautiful, beautiful individual and she really, really cared about the kids, all the kids,” The Associated Press reported.

Sobel attended Gesher Shalom Young Judaea as a camper and was later a staff member at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake and Young Judea’s Camp Tel Yehudah in the 1970s and 1980s, the Forward reported.

She was buried Tuesday in the Beth Jacob Synagogue section of the Green Mount cemetery. Her family requested that donations be made to Camp Tel Yehudah, Prevent Child Abuse, the Central Vermont Humane Society and Beth Jacob Synagogue.

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