A desperate search continued Thursday along the south Florida coast for Guma Aguiar, a Florida businessman and philanthropist who has given millions to Jewish nonprofit organizations.
Aguilar’s 31-foot yacht, the T.T. Zion, washed ashore Wednesday in Ft. Lauderdale with its motor running and lights on. The owner was nowhere to be found, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Aguiar, the CEO of Leor Energy who lives in Fort Lauderdale, was last seen around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. His 31-foot boat washed ashore in Fort Lauderdale early Wednesday morning, according to reports.
A close friend of Aguiar, Rabbi Moshe Meir Lipszyc, said he was shocked when the family called him to tell him that Aguiar was missing.
“He’s a very special person, he has a great heart and he helps people across the world,” Lipszyc told NBC-TV in Miami on Wednesday. “He has a heart as big as this world; I cannot say enough good about him.”
In 2009, Aguiar gave $8 million to the pro-aliyah group Nefesh B’Nefesh and $500,000 to March of the Living, which takes high school-aged Jews to Poland to see Holocaust sites. He also became a fixture of Israeli sports pages when he became the main sponsor of the Israeli Premier League soccer team Beitar Jerusalem.
While Aguiar, who has a Jewish mother, did not grow up with much of a Jewish background, he later returned to Judaism and has made large gifts to Jewish and Israeli causes. He made his fortune when he discovered huge natural gas reserves in Texas.
This story "Desperate Search for Missing Philanthropist" was written by JTA.