Chabad Shluchah Helps Autistic Child on Flight

Rabbi Bentzion Groner at a Friendship Circle North Carolina event in 2014. (FriendshipCircle NC)

A Chabad shluchah sprang into action to care for a special-needs child who was acting up on a long airplane flight, in a heartwarming story that her husband shared on social media.

Rabbi Bentzion and Mrs. Rochel Groner are Chabad shluchim in Charlotte, North Carolina. They recently chaperoned a trip to Israel coordinated by Mayanot (a Chabad kiruv yeshivah in Israel) and Birthright. On a connecting flight during the return trip back to the U.S., “about an hour into the 8 hr. flight,” wrote Rabbi Groner, “one of the young passengers, a little boy with Autism, started to have a meltdown. His cries were heard throughout the plane and you could feel the tension among the other passengers.

“No one wanted to say anything but it was getting very uncomfortable.

“After about 15 minutes, Rochel walked over to his seat by the window and put out her hand. He looked up and took it.

“They walked together to the bulkhead where she sat rocking and playing with him for a couple hours.

“While most of the passengers watched in awe little did they know that for Rochel this is her life.”

Many Chabad shluchim help people with special needs through Chabad’s Friendship Circle program. The Groners’ Chabad House’s Friendship Circle runs a business in North Carolina called ZABS Place, which provides training and employment opportunities for people with special needs.

Rabbi Groner posted pictures to social media of his wife holding the contented-looking African American child in her arms.

“At Friendship Circle, ZABS Place and Chabad we’re taught that if we just offer our hand in love and acceptance, miracles will follow,” he said.