Jewish philanthropists, one with local ties, among Akron crash victims

Jewish philanthropists, one with local ties, among Akron crash victims

An aircraft similar to the one that crashed in Akron, Ohio
An aircraft similar to the one that crashed in Akron, Ohio

Jared Weiner, husband of former Pittsburgher Amanda Filipek Weiner and son-in-law of Roberta and Jeffrey Letwin, was one of nine people who died in a fiery plane crash in Akron, Ohio, on Tuesday.

Weiner, who perished along with his brother-in-law, Ori Rom, when the Hawker jet they and seven others were riding in clipped a utility wire on approach into Akron Fulton International Airport outside of Cleveland, was a principal in his family-run real estate business, PEBB Enterprises, located in Boca Raton, Fla. Seven of those dead in the crash were employees of PEBB; the pilot and co-pilot of the plane perished as well.

The Letwins have long been active members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Roberta Letwin is a former employee of The Jewish Chronicle. Jeffrey Letwin is a former board member of Jewish Family & Children’s Services, a past chair of The Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh and chairman of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Associates of Ben-Gurion University. He is an attorney at Saul Ewing.

“All of us at the Federation are devastated by the tragic loss of Jared Weiner and the other passengers and pilots lost in Tuesday night’s plane crash,” Cindy Shapira, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said in an email. “Our hearts go out to the families. Many of us at Federation, like me, know and love Jeff and Roberta Letwin. They are committed and active in the Jewish and greater communities. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

“May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Amanda Weiner is a graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice High School and Community Day School. She and Jared Weiner have two children.

“We are all shocked,” said Tzippy Mazer, head of lower school and Hebrew/Jewish Studies at CDS. “It was rough when we realized it was Amanda’s husband in the crash. Her parents were very involved with CDS for a very long time. They volunteered a lot. We’ve had a long relationship.”

The twin-engine jet took off from Dayton and was nearing Akron when it crashed into an apartment building just before 3 p.m. There were no injuries reported on the ground.
The PEBB group was on a multi-stop flight from Florida to several cities in the Midwest; their most recent stop before Dayton was Cincinnati. The real estate company was considering the purchase of commercial property in the area, according to press reports.

As of Thursday afternoon, authorities had not yet determined the cause of the crash.

The jet was operated by Execuflight, based at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and owned by Augusto Daniel Lewkowicz.

“Our hearts are broken this morning with the news of the tragic accident that took the lives of two principals and five employees of PEBB Enterprises,” the company posted on its website Tuesday. “We are shocked and deeply saddened for the families, colleagues and friends of those who perished. Our first priority is to give our fullest support to the family members and loved ones of our co-workers.”

The company was not responding to media inquiries.

PEBB was founded by Jared Weiner’s grandparents, Eleanor and Paul Weiner, who were mainstays of the Jewish community in Florida and beyond.

“Our community is heartbroken by the profound loss of our neighbors who perished in the airplane crash in Akron this week, including seven principals and executives of the Boca Raton-based PEBB Enterprises,” Matthew C. Levin, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County said in an email. “We understand that our grief for Jared Weiner is shared by the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. The Weiner family, including Jared’s grandparents, Paul and Eleanor Weiner, who founded PEBB, and Jared’s parents Bruce and Carla Weiner, has long been a pillar of our community as the epitome of compassion and generosity. In addition to the countless people aided by their longstanding commitment to our Federation, the family’s local impact is evident in the Eleanor and Paul Weiner Cultural Center at B’nai Torah Congregation, and in the main waiting room of the new Lynn Cancer Center of Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Weiner family, who have also lost Jared’s brother-in-law Ori Rom,” Levin continued, “and with the loved ones of all who were lost in this tragedy.”

The Letwins are members of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha.

“This is a tragic loss,” said Rabbi Chuck Diamond, spiritual leader of TOL*OLS. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Weiner family.”

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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