Rabbi identified as victim in Orange County plane crash

Posted: Updated:
ORANGE COUNTY -

The victim of Saturday's deadly plane crash in Orange County has been identified as one of the biggest names in the Jewish Reform movement.

Rabbi Aaron Panken, 53, was killed while piloting a small plane that crashed around 9 a.m. Saturday near Middletown.

Panken served as president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute since 2013. The institute is a leading Jewish seminary, with 1,400 students at four campuses around the world.

He was also a member of the Westchester Reform Temple. According to sources, it was the same temple where Irene and Bruce Steinberg were members. The pair was killed along with their three sons in a Costa Rican plane crash in January.

Panken was scheduled to ordain the next class of rabbis and cantors Sunday before the crash happened in Wallkill.

The crash also injured his male passenger.

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