By COLlive reporter
Shay, a flight attendant on El Al flight number 001 from Tel Aviv to New York, had every reason to remain vigilant and at his best on Monday night.
Instead of landing at the JFK airport, the fully booked plane was diverted to the Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY, due to heavy fog.
Shay, along with the rest of the flight crew, had their hands full trying to keep passengers calm during the 2 hour layover, and took notice of people coming back and forth from business class.
When he got closer, he discovered a white bearded rabbi sharing stories, words of inspiration and being asked for blessings. A moment before he was going to ask them to return to their seats, he identified one of them.
“Rabbi Levi? Rabbi Levi?”
“What are you doing here?”
The Israeli-born flight attendant identified his friend Rabbi Levi Baumgarten, the energetic operator of the Mitzvah Tank that drives around New York City offering Jews to do a good deed.
“How is your Moishy doing,” Shay inquired about Baumgarten’s 12 year-old son who deeply influenced him during Yom Kippur davening in Manhattan a year ago.
Baumgarten told him he was returning from his cousin’s high profile wedding in Israel, attended by businessmen, politicians and sports personalities who are friends of the kallah’s father, activist Rabbi Yaakov Gloiberman.
Baumgarten was traveling with his brothers Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten, Shliach in East Hampton and Rabbi Sholom Ber Baumgarten of Tzivos Hashem Children International.
Asked who was the rabbi seated there, Baumgarten replied that it was his uncle, Rabbi Leibel Groner, who merited to serve as the Rebbe’s Mazkir for over 40 years.
Shay was thrilled and reported that he has been putting on Tefillin everyday and that he often visits the Rebbe’s Ohel gravesite in Queens. He even had a personal miracle from the Rebbe to share with them.
“It was an amazing hashgacha pratis,” Rabbi Levi Baumgarten told COLlive.com.
Also returning from that wedding on that same flight was R’ Velvel Farkash, a Crown Heights resident and activist, who after wandering around the airplane trying to kill time, discovered his relative, the gabbai of the Belzer Rebbe, R’ Shimon Wolf Klein.
Also seen on the plane was Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, returning from addressing the participants of the annual JLI trip to Israel.
With so many good people on board, the layover didn’t exceed two hours and by 10:15 PM they hit the tarmac in New York.