Dulles, VA – 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 minchah 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, shlita, 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.
The community member organized a minyan led by the Ziditchover Rav, Rav Eichenstein, shlita, spiritual leader of Baltimore’s Mercaz Torah Utefillah shteeble. With a sefer Torah carried on the community member’s lap and a sizable breakfast for the Rebbe prepared by Rebbetzin Eichenstein, the minyan, which included Baltimore Hatzalah members and bochurim, drove to Dulles Airport.
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, American Friends of Lubavitch Director Rabbi Levi Shemtov of Washington, D.C. was contacted by Satmar Chasidim in Kiryas Joel. Rabbi Shemtov used his government contacts to arrange for the 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.
Having been told by Rabbi Shemtov when the Rebbe had gotten off the plane, Rav Eichenstein and his group, who were waiting outside the airport in their cars, were on hand to greet the Rebbe when he emerged from customs.
The greeting group brought the Rebbe to the hotel at 12:15 p.m., davening shacharis just before the zman, followed by a session of learning and then minchah.
“We sat and talked, and the Rebbe was very happy and comfortable and excited that people came together,” one Baltimore community member told VIN. “You could see it on his face.”
The Rebbe was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was a “heimishe” Satmar connection in Baltimore when one of the Baltimore Hatzalah members informed the Rebbe that he had married a granddaughter of Reb Berish Vishever, who is a son-in-law of Rabbi Yakov Horowitz of Monsey, Reb Berish’s great-grandson. Reb Berish, Hashem yakum damo, was very close to the Satmar Rebbe Reb Yoilish, zt”l and to this day, his niggunim, among them the beautiful Satmar “Shulem Aleichem,” are sung in Satmar kehilos around the world.
The Rebbe continued his unplanned excursion to Virginia with a trip to the recently constructed mikvah in Fairfax, Virginia where the Rebbe had the opportunity to give brachos to several bochurim and local shliach, 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, Board Chairman of United Jewish Community Advocacy Relations and Enrichment (UJCare), the political arm of the Rebbe’s chasidim in the Tri-State region, released the following statement exclusively to 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. 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!”
“Someone commented that so many people were taken away from their work today because of this,” said Rabbi Shemtov in an exclusive interview with VIN News. “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.”