A group of Maryland and Virginia Jews joined forces to pull off a display of achdus—by pulling a stranded Satmar Rebbe off a grounded plane and arranging for a suite with a sefer Torah at the Dulles Marriott, along a minyan for shachris and mincha and breakfast.
Kiryas Joel residents reached out to a Baltimore contact at 7:30 a.m. this morning to inform him that the Rebbe’s flight was being diverted to Dulles and to ask for his help.
The Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, would need to say Kaddish for his mother, and the Aeromexico flight from Mexico to New York was forced to land at Dulles after heavy snows snarled air traffic in and out of New York City.
Community members organized a minyan an a suite was also reserved for the Rebbe at the nearby Dulles Marriott, comprising a dining room for shacharis/minchah and brunch, and a private side room for the Rebbe.
Simultaneously, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Washington, D.C. Director of American Friends of Lubavitch, was contacted by Satmar Chassidim in Kiryas Joel.
Rabbi Shemtov used his government contacts to arrange for the Satmar Rebbe’s earlier departure from the aircraft and very quick passage through customs, though the plane and its passengers were delayed on the tarmac after landing for about three hours.
The Satmar Rebbe continued his unplanned excursion to Virginia with a trip to the recently constructed Chabad mikvah in Fairfax, Virginia, which was especially opened for him by Rabbi Shalom Deitsch, the head shliach of Northern Virginia.
The Rebbe then was driven to Baltimore’s Union Station for a train ride to Newark, New Jersey, where another car awaited the Rebbe to transport him back to Kiryas Joel.
Gershon Schlesinger, Chairman of Satmar’s United Jewish Community Advocacy Relations and Enrichment (UJCare), told VIN News: “We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the Chabad emissary Reb Levi Shemtov who went out of his way to make sure that the Rebbe had a warm mikvah.”
He added, “It was mamesh a kiddush hashem and we are extremely thankful to the Baltimore community volunteers who join the minyan and for bringing the food.”
Rabbi Shemtov told VIN News: “Someone commented that so many people were taken away from their work today because of this. I told them, they were wrong. The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us all to help anyone no matter who they are. It was a big zchus to be able to do what we did today.”