What brings a Rav from a community in Beit Shemesh and the great-grandson of the Eim Habbanim Semeichah, a Sephardic mohel who lives in New York and a Modern Orthodox couple with three little children, to spend Shabbos Bereishis together in Warsaw, Poland?
The answer: a malfunctioning generator on a plane…
Some three hours before Shabbos, Rabbi Mordechai Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, received an urgent message from his friend, Rabbi Edgar Gluck, the Rav of Galicia, that there were 20 Shabbos-observant Jews who had been unexpectedly stuck in the city for Shabbos. The Rav arranged sleeping accommodations for them in the Radisson Blue Hotel near the Nozick Shul, the central shul in Warsaw. Then he connected them with the Kosher Delight caterer in the city, which quickly expanded the kehillah’s Shabbos table to be able to host the additional guests.
The passengers were on a flight from Israel to the United States with a stopover in Kiev. “A short time after we took off from Kiev,” a traveler related, “we saw that the plane was turning back in the direction from which it came. We realized that something was wrong.” A problem had arisen in one of the plane’s generators, and an announcement was made that the plane would land in Warsaw for a short time to deal with the problem. But for the Shabbos-observant passengers, every hour was precious and they could not wait for the flight to take off again.
They contacted Rabbi Schudrich, and the “Shabbos marathon” began.
“They didn’t want to let us leave the airport because we were booked on the flight,” a passenger explained, “so we left our tickets with one of the clerks, and explained that we would have to remain in Warsaw until sundown the next day, and that they should find us alternate flights for Motzoei Shabbos or Sunday.”
Because of the delay in getting out of the airport, the guests reached the hotel at candle-lighting time. A community representative waited for them and, after they had gotten themselves organized and lit candles, escorted them to the Nozick Shul. There, they joined the davening with the local community and with Jewish tourists from around the world, as well as more than 250 Israeli youths. The guests then ate their meals with the community — albeit wearing weekday clothes (as their suitcases had remained on the plane), but the atmosphere was elevated and joyous.
The next day, after Shacharis, they celebrated the birthdays of two of the local community members with a festive kiddush and then joined the Shabbos morning meal. That was followed by a tour of the ancient city with the local Jews. Shabbos concluded with Minchah and seudah shelishis, all courtesy of Kosher Delight.
The guests were very positive. “There’s a reason we are here for Shabbos. Hashem arranged for us to spend Shabbos here with you and we’re happy about it!” With true Yiddishe emunah of accepting everything happily, and by performing hachnasas orchim with joy, guests and hosts alike enjoyed a truly uplifting and joyous Shabbos!