Icy Crash Takes Life of ‘Facebuker Rebbe’

Rabbi Dovid Winiarz  (Provided)
Rabbi Dovid Winiarz

An icy crash in Harford County early Sunday morning took the life of a well-known Orthodox rabbi and sent four others to the hospital.

Rabbi Dovid Winiarz, 49, of Staten Island, N.Y., was on his way to the 26th Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals Convention at the Hunt Valley Inn when icy road conditions caused the Honda CR-V in which he was a passenger to crash into another vehicle shortly after 8 a.m., according to Maryland State Police.

The collision occurred on Route 23 when the driver of the CR-V lost control of the vehicle and struck a Honda Pilot in the opposing lane near High Point Road. Winiarz was seated in the rear of the CR-V. The drivers of both vehicles and two passengers were treated for minor injuries.

Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, director of Agudath Israel of Maryland, coordinated with the medical examiner’s office in downtown Baltimore to oversee and secure the release of the body. Sol Levinson & Bros. provided transportation to Pikesville, where the chevra kadisha from New York waited to take Winiarz’s body back home.

Known as the “Facebuker Rebbe,” Winiarz utilized social media, particularly through frequent Facebook posts, to reach his followers. As of Monday afternoon, Winiarz’s Facebook page registered 12,885 “likes.” His final post on Jan. 17 was a video featuring his son studying at Avos U’Bonim Yeshiva Madreigas HaAdam, captioned: “Before I leave on my road trip I came to learn Torah with my son and his friend.”

Winiarz was the founder and director of Survival Through Education, Inc., a nonprofit Jewish outreach organization. He served as the rabbi at the Multi-Faith Center at the College of Staten Island, Willowbrook, and ran a food pantry through Bikur Cholim of Staten Island.

“He was a deeply heartfelt Jew who lived his Jewishness every moment of his every day, involved in bringing Jews closer to Judaism, in providing for the needs of the poor, in countless acts of chessed, or kindness, to others,” Rabbi Avi Shafran, a close friend of the Winiarz family, told the JT by email.

The funeral for Winiarz took place Monday morning at the Young Israel of Staten Island. He leaves behind a wife, 10 children and several grandchildren.

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