After a technical malfunction stranded the passengers of ELAL flight 26 in Halifax Virginia for Shabbos, Chabad stepped up to the plate. Barry Schechter, a passenger on the stranded flight, was touched by the actions and open hearts of the Chabad of Halifax, and penned the following letter as he continued on their trip to Eretz Yisroel.
EL AL Jan. 2020
On behalf of my family and everyone on EL AL 26, I would like to thank you and the Rebbetzin for your incredibly gracious, generous and heartfelt hospitality in Halifax. I know I speak for all of us when I say we quite literally could not have made it through Shabbat without you.
When we were told by the pilot that our Newark to Tel Aviv nonstop would be making an actual stop due to mechanical difficulties, we were certainly taken aback.
For many of us, Shabbat was the first worry, as we landed in Halifax late Thursday night. We imagined Davening in a hotel conference room at best and an airport lounge at worst. But once El Al told us that they had made contact with Chabad, a cheer rose up from the plane.
Only later did we learn that in addition to preparing a large amount of food to accommodate the many passengers, and being instrumental in coordinating the generous shipment of meals (from very caring Askonim in Montreal) delivered by wonderful yeshiva bochrim Yossi and Dovid, you even helped organize the buses and hotels and many other details.
Friday night was emotional, to say the least. With campus students gone for vacation, we had a beautiful Minyan and the Davening and zmirot were quite literally overwhelming. As we sat down to eat a sumptuous meal, you and others gave beautiful divrei Torah that touched us all.
When the El Al staff arrived to give us updates and their first concern was did we eat enough, we knew that we were dealing with a Jewish airline. And when they said we were in good hands with Chabad, they were right.
My wife Allison and my daughter Dora agreed as we walked back that this was the definition of turning lemons into lemonade.
Saturday morning was a more intimate affair as some of our group walked to the local Orthodox shul to help augment their minyan and the rest of us joined you. Then we all came together from both minyanim to eat another great meal.
Singing. Dancing. Divrei Torah. New friends. Stories. Young people schmoozing. Older folks schmoozing.
We had mincha and then we took our leave back to the wonderful Lord Nelson Hotel, whose staff could not have been better.
After a couple of hours of sightseeing, we Davened maariv at the hotel, did an impromptu havdalah, and boarded our buses back to the airport.
I write to you as we are over the Adriatic Sea, according to the screen keeping me awake above my head. G-d willing, Allison and I will be seeing Eretz Yisrael for the first time as we visit our twins Max and Eden, who are learning at Lev HaTorah and Machon Maayan, respectively.
Dora is back after her year at MM as well.
We will be seeing family and friends, G-d willing, all over the country.
Of course, the irony of another Mr Magoo moment for me does not escape those who know that the twins were born on September 11, 2001, which is why I was not at the World Trade Center that day.
Regards and we hope to see you, as we hope to see all our new friends, in good times, in Canada, the US or Israel, perhaps with the coming of Moshiach! Amen!
Barry Schechter NJ