WASHINGTON – Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), died tragically in a plane crash on May 5, 2018. In response, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“The tragic death of Rabbi Aaron Panken, my teacher, rabbi, and friend, is heartbreaking. Rabbi Panken was a role model since we were in youth group. As adults, I was privileged to call him a colleague. I am filled with cherished memories of our times together, including learning with the HUC-JIR students to whom Aaron was so devoted, working on behalf of our Reform Movement in Israel, and marching with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate Bloody Sunday. Rabbi Panken inspired me and so many others to truly live our Jewish values. There are no words to express the depth of this loss for his family, the Jewish community, and the world. His commitment and contributions to Reform Judaism will be felt for generations to come and we will honor his memory through sacred service. Zichrono Livrachah, may his memory be for a blessing.”
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.