Thursday, March 30, 2023

A tragic plane crash on Jan. 19 in Westchester, New York, took the lives of two esteemed members of the Cleveland Jewish community: Boruch Taub, who was piloting the plane, and Ben Chafetz, the sole passenger.

The two were returning in the evening from a funeral in New York when Taub reported engine trouble to air-traffic control after the plane had just taken off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Declaring a “Mayday,” Taub attempted to make an emergency landing at Westchester County Airport, but the plane crashed into a wooded area two miles from the airport.

Taub and Chafetz were described as “pillars of the community,” and Chafetz’s kind-heartedness and generosity were known far beyond Ohio. Taub owned an auto-repair shop and was praised for his outstanding honesty and business integrity by friends and acquaintances. “He was extremely careful in business and always kind and accommodating,” Avrumy Fergusson, a friend, told Chabad.org.

Fergusson recalled how Taub recently donated towards the writing of a new Torah scroll at their synagogue.

An experienced pilot, Taub was “very passionate” about flying and “loved to share the beauty of flight and the open skies with people,” he added, noting that Taub gave him a ride to Chicago just two months ago.

Chafetz forged close ties with Chabad emissaries during his business travels. Rabbi Tzvi Rivkin, formerly the Chabad emissary in Bangalore, India, was devastated at the news. “Ben was a very special, caring friend—a brother,” he told Chabad.org. “Ben came to India every six months, and every time before coming, he would call and ask what he could bring.”

When an El Al flight was stranded in Athens, Greece hours before Shabbat in 2018 with 150 Shabbat observant passengers on board, including Chafetz, Chabad-Lubavitch of Athens arranged what Chafetz later described as “a beautiful Shabbos.” In 2022, Chafetz was instrumental in helping Chabad open a new mikvah in Athens.

“Ben was very involved in the campaign to build the mikvah …. He was a very special person … This is very shocking and tragic,” Hendel told Chabad.org.

Boruch Taub is survived by his wife, Shoshana and their five children.

Ben Chafetz is survived by his wife, Smadar, and their seven children.

By Mendel Super/ www.Chabad.org 
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