A KOSHER RESCUE MISSION
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, there are Jews, even in the desert of Montana, and perhaps they are here for just such a time as this.
The following was submitted by Nancy Oyer.
I thought this was great. Nice job, Congregation Beth Aaron (Donna Healy) and Bozeman Chabad (Chavie Bruk)!
Just in case anyone missed it – see below. The story made it to Tablet Magazine and the Times of Israel among many other news outlets. Here are three of the articles out there.
After an Emergency Landing in Montana, El Al Passengers Are Treated to a Kosher Feast
A rag-tag group of caring Jews came to the aid of about 300 stranded passengers on their way from Israel to Los Angeles
By Tess Cutler
November 16, 2015
It could be the premise of a hit sitcom: An El Al flight en route to Los Angeles is forced to make an emergency landing in Billings, Montana, and its passengers are stranded at the airport for 12 hours, waiting for the next aircraft to arrive from New Jersey. But here’s the kicker: There’s no kosher food at the terminal, or enough food to feed nearly 300 hungry passengers, many of whom are presumably Jewish. Well guess what? It happened over the weekend.
At 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, an El Al airplane experienced engine issues and was forced to touch down in Montana, a state which boasts a population of 1,350 Jews as of 2014. “You just don’t often get a planeload of Israelis in Billings,” local resident Donna Healy told The Billings Gazette. Healy, who is Jewish, sprung into action, supplying the stranded passengers with snacks and toiletries, such as diapers. “We thought we should do what we could to make them comfortable,” she said. “Kosher food is a part of that.” (Her congregation, Beth Aaron, paid for the goods.)
Rebbetzin Chavie Bruk of Chabad Montana in Bozeman also got word of the incident. So she packed her three children into her car and drove 150 miles (about a two-hour journey) to deliver a smorgasbord of cold cuts galore, hummus, eggplant, fruit and bagels. “It was a tremendous kiddush Hashem—amazing and inspiring!” gushed Israeli passenger Hillel Fuld about the impromptu kosher food delivery.
Apparently, El Al crew members also went on a Costco run, nabbing lifetime supplies of grapes, Cheerios, milk, and sacs upon sacs of what appears to be onions.
The famished passengers noshed on the delights, kibbitzed, and Facebooked to pass the time. In their 12 hour interim, they had a feast fit for kings and queens due to numerous supermarket sweeps.
The well-nourished, jet-lagged passengers eventually landed in Los Angeles at 4:45 pm.
LA-bound El Al plane makes emergency landing in Montana
Fire breaks out in Boeing 777’s right engine; flight had nearly 300 passengers on board
By JTA November 16, 2015, 12:59 am
An El Al flight with nearly 300 people on board made an emergency landing in Billings, Montana.
Warning lights showed that there was a fire in the right engine, the Billings Gazette reported Sunday. The passengers had to exit using a landing ladder, according to the newspaper, as the Boeing 777 was too large to park at the terminal.
A spare plane was being sent from New Jersey to allow the passengers to finish their journey, which started in Tel Aviv.
With no US Customs agents stationed at the Billings airport, Customs officials were sent from Great Falls to handle the passengers, the Gazette reported.
A Kosher Rescue Mission for El Al Travelers Stuck in Montana
Hillel Fuld from Beit Shemesh, Israel, says that Chabad emissary Chavie Bruk “showed up and instantly put a smile on hundreds of faces.”
They were stuck in a Montana airport with no end in sight to their wait and no kosher food to eat. That’s what happened today to some 300 passengers on an El Al airlines flight Tel Aviv to Los Angeles. The Boeing 777 made an emergency landing in Billings, Mont., when a reported fire in one of the engines made it unsafe to continue.
Passengers disembarked the plane and were bused to a terminal, where they waited for another plane to take them to their final destination—Los Angeles International Airport. There they sat as the hours ticked away and the food supplies—in particular, the kosher food—dwindled.
Hillel Fuld of Beit Shemesh, Israel, says that somehow, Rabbi Chaim and Chavie Bruk—co-directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana in Bozeman—got news of the situation and set about immediately to offer assistance. With her three young children in tow, Chavie Bruk drove a car full of kosher food 150 miles to Billings Logan International Airport, where passengers had been waiting for nearly 10 hours.
“She showed up and instantly put a smile on hundreds of faces. She did it with utter grace and never stopped smiling for a second,” says Fuld, 37, who works in technology. “Based on the constant smile on her face, she is happier to be here than we are to have her here.
“It was a tremendous kiddush Hashem—amazing and inspiring!”
Fuld, who is traveling with his wife and 11-year-old son to Los Angeles, enjoyed kosher bagels, cold cuts, chips and cake. Heaps of hummus, fresh fruit and other goods were also available.
Rabbi Chaim Bruk recounts that the rabbi at El Al in Israel called him this morning and apprised him of the plane trouble. Bruk himself was on a flight to Minneapolis, but his wife snapped into action. She gathered as much ready-to-eat food as she could—they had just received a kosher shipment the night before—piled her children into the car and drove two hours to the airport.
“She was welcomed like a heroine,” says the rabbi.
Meanwhile, the group of tired (but not hungry) passengers remain in the airport two hours later—a half-day now—waiting for the next leg of their journey.
Chavie Bruk, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana in Bozeman with her husband, Rabbi Chaim Bruk, drove a car full of kosher food to Billings Logan International Airport for stranded passengers of an El Al flight to Los Angeles that had to make an emergency landing. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)
Hundreds of people enjoyed bagels, cold meats, hummus, fresh fruit, chips and more as they lingered in the terminal. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)
A welcome respite from a long and hungry wait. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)
Fuld, his wife and their 11-year-old son in Tel Aviv at the start of their trip. (Photo: Hillel Fuld)
Also picked up by the Times of Israel