NEW YORK, Nov. 2 (JTA) — At least three Jewish couples were among the 217 EgyptAir passengers and crew members whose lives ended in the cold waters of the Atlantic when their plane crashed east of Massachusetts on Sunday.
Among the couples embarking on vacation were two couples who were long-time friends from the Detroit suburbs.
Norman and Joan Shapiro had been the closest of friends with Larry and Edith Kowalsky for more than half a century.
They were on board the fateful EgyptAir flight as the foursome headed for what they had hoped would be a one-day stop in Cairo and a two-week photography safari in Kenya.
The husbands met soon after both graduated from pharmacy school in the early 1950s, according to The New York Times. They joined the same professional organization and each had a pharmacy in neighboring Detroit suburbs.
As beloved long-time members of their synagogue, Norman Shapiro, 70, and his brother, Bernard, had for many years shared the honor of taking the Torah scrolls from the ark during Kol Nidre services at Congregation B’nai David.
The Shapiros had been members of B’nai David, an independent, traditional synagogue for more than 30 years, Ben-Zion Lanxner, who serves as both rabbi and cantor, said in a phone interview.
Joan Shapiro, 64, had volunteered as the librarian at B’nai David and had authored romance novels, two of which had been published, he said.
The synagogue’s spiritual leader had spoken with Norman Shapiro’s brother since the fatal crash.
“Bernard is devastated,” said Lanxner. “How can you be anything else?”
In addition to Norman Shapiro’s brother, they are survived by his parents, who are both in their 90s, two sons and a daughter.
A service for the Shapiros was slated Wednesday afternoon at a local funeral home.
A memorial service for the Kowalskys was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at their synagogue, Congregation B’nai Moshe, in West Bloomfield.
“A lot of people have been calling the synagogue” about the service, said the receptionist, who asked that her name not be used.
“It’s a real tragedy. It’s affected a lot of people.”
Larry Kowalsky, 74, and his wife Edith, 68, are survived by four sons and six grandchildren.
Another Jewish couple on EgyptAir’s deadly crash was Natalie and Martin Greenberg, of Ridgefield, Conn.
It was to be the first trip to Egypt for the Greenbergs, who were planning to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next May by renewing their vows before Rabbi Jon Haddon of Temple Sherith Israel.
“I never remember not seeing them together,” Haddon told The New York Times. “They lived life to the hilt and really contemplated this trip as the trip of their life.”
They were also expecting to celebrate the milestone with a cruise to Alaska, joined by their only child, a daughter, and their two grandchildren.