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Founder of Ashland synagogue drowns in Mexico

Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield, founder in 1985 of Ashland's Havurah Shir Hadash and its rabbi for the first 10 years, drowned Tuesday while snorkeling in Mexico.

Hirschfield ordained the present rabbi of Havurah, David Zaslow, in 1995, and moved to Portland in 1996 to help found P'nai Or, which he served until his death. He was 65.

The Jewish community will gather at Havurah tonight "to weep and be together," said Zaslow. A formal memorial service will be planned for later.

The accident happened in the ocean off a remote village where the Hirschfield family had gone after the wedding of one of the sons of Hirschfield and his wife, Beth, said Zaslow.

The couple and their twins, Dov and Elisha, 7, were snorkeling less than 100 yards offshore, then his wife and the children went ashore in a dinghy. A short time later, Hirschfield's body was found floating offshore, Zaslow said.

In addition to his wife and the twins, Hirschfield is survived by a teenage son, Aviel. He also has sons in their late 20s, Jonathan and Isaiah, the latter married last week to a Mexican woman, said Zaslow.

— John Darling, for the Mail Tribune