A memorial service honoring the lives of a Belleair family killed in a Costa Rica plane crash was held Wednesday. 

Drs. Mitchell and Leslie Weiss and their two children, Hannah and Ari, were among 12 people killed in a plane crash on New Year's Eve. 

The service was held at Congregation B'nai Israel on 58th Street North in St. Petersburg. 

Due to an expected high number of attendees, multiple satellite venues were set up to view the service, congregation officials said. 

It was a gathering no one imagined they would be a part of.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy. It’s just such a loss to the community. Brilliant family, raised two beautiful children who were really committed to the community as well,” said family friend Carrie Schulman.

“It’s a tragedy. It’s something that’s not supposed to happen,” said Yonatan Golden, who went to school with Hannah. “Especially for the Weiss family. One of the nicest families I’ve ever met in my life. They were always so kind.”

Both Hannah and Ari Weiss went to school at Shorecrest Preparatory in St. Petersburg. Hannah graduated in 2016; Ari was just a sophomore.

They were all active in the local Jewish community.

“My heart is broken,” Peninah Benjamin said at the service. She was a friend of Ari’s. “A big piece of our family puzzle is missing. We were both supposed to save the world together. Our world will never be the same. But I will keep you in my head and heart for always.”

The cause of the crash has not been determined yet, but Costa Rica Civil Aviation said there were high winds reported at the Punta Islita Airport the day of the crash.

The family will eventually be returned to Clearwater for burial.


To make a contribution to JTS in memory of Hannah, you may:

a) Make your gift online at http://www.jtsa.edu/give - and check the box at the bottom of the screen indicating that it is “an honor/memorial gift.”  When prompted, enter that the gift is in Hannah Weiss’s memory.

b) Send a check made out to JTS, with “in memory of Hannah Weiss” written in the memo section - and mail to:

The Jewish Theological Seminary

Attention: Dean Shuly R. Schwartz

3080 Broadway

New York, NY 10027

c) Call JTS’s Development Department at (212) 678-8870 to provide your credit card information over the phone and indicate that the gift is in memory of Hannah. (Please note that JTS’s offices are closed on Friday.)

USY Donations


Note in memory of Hannah and Ari Weiss. Designate scholarship fund 

Michelle Rich  rich@uscj.org.  212-533-7800. X136

The Weiss Family Scholarship Fund - Ramah Darom


Shorecrest Preparatory School


Note in memory of Hannah and Ari 

Congregation B'nai Israel

The Weiss Family Memorial Fund honors the memory of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Leslie Weiss, and their children Hannah and Ari Weiss, with a hands-on play and environmental learning area at Congregation B’nai Israel of St. Petersburg. The Weiss and Levin families have given their blessings to the creation of this fund in memory of the young, vibrant family that died in a plane crash in Costa Rica, December 31, 2017. It continues their cherished work of sustainability, child health, and social justice.

To donate, please visit www.cbistpete.org


The family will receive visitors Wednesday & Thursday from 6:00pm - 8:30pm, with evening minyan at 6:30pm at the home of:

Louisa and Mark Benjamin, 108 Harbor View Lane, Largo, Fl 33770

and on Thursday from 1:00 - 3:00 pm, and Friday from 1:00 - 4:00 pm at the home of Bibby Weiss.  

David C. Gross Funeral Homes, Belcher Road Chapel in Clearwater is serving the family.