President of Jewish Seminary Killed in Small Plane Crash in NY: Police

What to Know

  • Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, 53, was killed in a small plane crash in New York's Orange County Saturday morning, police and the seminary said
  • Rabbi Panken was the president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute, a seminary with four campuses
  • The plane crashed just after taking off from the Randall Airport in Middletown, the FAA said

The president of a Jewish seminary died when a plane crashed in New York’s Orange County Saturday morning, police and the seminary said.

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, 53, was the president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute, the seminary said in a statement. The seminary has campuses in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York.

“Rabbi Panken was a distinguished rabbi and scholar, dedicated teacher and exemplary leader of the Reform Movement for nearly three decades,” the seminary said. He is survived by his wife, Lisa Messinger, and two children.

The plane, an Aeronca 7AC, crashed near Dolstontown Road just after taking off from the Randall Airport in Middletown, the FAA said. One other person was injured in the crash, state police said.

The small yellow aircraft got caught in the trees in the rural area, Chopper 4 video showed. The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.

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