Rabbi Aaron Panken, the president of Hebrew Union College (HUC), was killed today (May 5, 2018) piloting a small aircraft in the Hudson Valley area of New York state, according to the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website.
The plane crashed in a wooded area in the town of Wawayanda, near the New Jersey border. A passenger, Frank Reiss, a flight instructor, was injured.
An HUC release announcing Panken's death said he was 53 years old and a licensed commercial pilot. It also asserted that Panken was an "ardent supporter of Reform Judaism in Israel."
Panken had led the Reform movement's flagship seminary since 2014. Prior to serving as the chief executive officer of HUC's four campuses -- in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York -- the native New Yorker held senior positions at the school, including vice president for strategic initiatives, dean of the New York campus, and dean of students. He was ordained in 1991.