2 Cleveland Jews returning from a funeral die in a plane crash outside of New York City

(Jewish News from Cleveland and JTA) — Two Cleveland-area Jewish men flying a single-engine plane were killed Thursday when their plane crashed shortly after takeoff in White Plains, New York.

Binyamin (Ben) Chafetz of Beachwood and Boruch Taub of Cleveland Heights, two strongly Orthodox Cleveland suburbs, were killed when the plane Taub was piloting experienced engine problems and crashed near Westchester County Airport while trying to make an emergency landing. The two returned home after a funeral in the New York area.

Their extended Jewish communities were already teetering before the crash and their deaths had been confirmed by authorities after Chafetz sent messages to a WhatsApp group after the plane encountered problems, apparently intending to message his wife .

In the messages, which were shared widely on Orthodox social media on Thursday and Friday, he told his wife he loves her and their children and asked their congregation to say Tehillim, or Psalms, a common response to crises.

Two Jewish emergency groups responded quickly at White Plains, where the plane appeared to be attempting an emergency landing. Brooklyn-based Misaskim, which provides crisis coordination and survivors’ services, and Rockland County-based Chaverim, a volunteer emergency responder, both arrived on site within an hour and were working with local authorities.

Ben Chafetz, left, and Boruch Taub died when the single-engine aircraft Taub was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff on January 19, 2023. (Courtesy of Cleveland Jewish News)

The aircraft was not located more than five hours after a distress signal was sent. Authorities located the wreck on a small island in a reservoir near the airport, their search was complicated by heavy rain and storms.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash. Taub had radioed the FAA to report low oil pressure, followed shortly by a mayday signal.

The two men are experienced pilots, the plane’s owner told a Cleveland television station. Chafetz owned an e-commerce business that attended the Zichron Chaim Congregation, an Orthodox synagogue in University Heights, and Taub owned an automobile and transmission store in Cleveland Heights.

A version of this story was originally published in Jewish News from Cleveland and is reprinted with permission.