By COLlive Reporter
Rabbi Yona Edelkopf, a Chabad Shliach in Long Island, NY wanted to help a fellow Shliach prepare for Rosh Hashana, so he took an unconventional route: flying by private plane to deliver much-needed supplies.
Edelkopf, director of Chabad of South Bay, in Massapequa, NY with his wife Devorah, knows that Kosher food and supplies are not available near Blacksburg, Virginia, where Rabbi Zvi Yaakov and Chanie Zweibel direct the Librescu Jewish Student Center at Virginia Tech.
The Zweibels have been serving as the Shluchim at Virginia Tech since 2009, providing for the spiritual needs of the students as well as the local community. They live five hours from any other Jewish community, and all of their Kosher food and supplies have to be shipped from stores and distributors.
Edelkopf, who was a Yeshiva classmate and later a Chavrusa learning partner of Zweibel’s, wanted to help his colleague prepare for the busy month of Tishrei, and give him a boost at the same time.
Rabbi Edelkopf recruited the help of a close friend who is also a pilot, Mr. Michael Harbator of Long Island. Harbator, who visited China a few years ago and was moved by the assistance and friendship he received at Chabad in Beijing and Shanghai, was on board with the plan immediately.
“When I asked him if he would give me a ride on his plane to help a friend who is a Rabbi on campus, he said ‘Yes! Absolutely! Now I finally have a chance to repay Chabad for the love they have shown me during my travels!'” Rabbi Edelkopf told COLlive.
So at 9:45 am on Sunday, a week before the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the two climbed aboard Harbator’s N6493Y plane at Farmingdale Airport and took off for the two hour flight to Blacksburg, Virginia, a mile from the Chabad Center. The plane was filled to the brim with gourmet food and groceries from the Five Town’s Gourmet Glatt Supermarket, all at specially discounted prices.
They were met on the runway by the grateful Zweibel family, who were thrilled to receive boxes of food and supplies like chicken, meat, dairy and groceries.
“We are so grateful to Yona and Michael for coming down and for the great help, we are now fully stocked and ready to celebrate the holidays,” said Rabbi Zweibel. “This amazing gesture from my fellow Shliach shows that Chasidim truly are one family,” he said.
Edelkopf and Harbator then joined the students at the Chabad Student Center for a lavish barbecue and inspiring farbrengen, sponsored by Gourmet Glatt.
While the Zweibels were the ones who received the pre-holiday gift, Rabbi Edelkopf says the visit was very special to him as well.
“The visit was very emotional for me, because it was incredible to see first hand the mesiras nefesh of my colleague in such a remote location,” said Rabbi Edelkopf. “For myself, living in the New York area with an abundance of Kosher food available, it is easy to forget the dedication of many Shluchim, especially those on campus. Seeing the work that Shluchim do every day, and the influence they have on those around them, is amazing to witness,” he said.