A ceremony was held Sunday to commemorate the upcoming first anniversary of what has become known as the Miracle of Creskill, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary pilot Yaakov Yosef “Jack” Rosenberg’s heroic landing of a plane in a field in Creskill, New Jersey.
On September 3, 2015, Rosenberg and an observer, Erik Pearson, were on a routine Coast Guard patrol along the Hudson River when their engine failed. The plane began going down near Reagan Field, a large ballfield in Creskill, that was full of children playing. In what has been hailed as heroic airmanship, Rosenberg was able to guide the plane away from the children, and crash-land at the far edge of the field. He and Pearson suffered serious injuries, but miraculously, no one on the ground was hurt.
Sunday’s kosher picnic event was held in Reagan Field. Hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the event was attended by Coast Guard Auxiliary officials, elected officials, Chaverim of Rockland, Rosenberg’s family and friends, as well as the children who were in the park on that fateful evening one year ago. The event was held to honor Rosenberg and Pearson, though Pearson was unable to attend, due to a last-minute family emergency.
At the event, Rosenberg, was called on to give an impromptu speech.
“I would like to thank Hashem for everything,” he said. “They are calling me a hero, but it’s not me; it’s all Hashem’s doing. It’s a miracle that the plane didn’t explode in midair. It’s a miracle that nobody else got hurt.
As Rosenberg explained in a subsequent interview with Hamodia, “The oil in the plane got up to 2000 degrees, and the crankshaft melted. The plane could have exploded in midair.”
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind was among the officials in attendance at Sunday’s picnic.
“It was so inspiring to hear of Jack Rosenberg’s heroic story,” said Hikind, one of several speakers at the ceremony. “This pilot’s heroic landing will never be forgotten.”
“Jack’s swift thinking saved so many lives that day, including his own, and he will forever be revered for it,” Hikind said.
Hikind has been a long-time friend of the Rosenberg family.
In 2006, Rosenberg waged a public battle against the Coast Guard for the right to wear a yarmulke while on duty; he was ultimately successful, due largely to Hikind’s assistance. At Sunday’s event, the Rosenberg family presented Hikind with a plaque thanking him for all his help.
Rosenberg’s recovery has been a long and difficult process, but today he is doing much better than he was a year ago.
“Each day is different,” he says. “This week was nice weather, so I feel a little better. When the weather is better, I feel better. I feel the most pain when barometric pressure drops, or if I am walking for too long.”
“At times,” he says, “the pain gets so intense that I faint.”
Rosenberg has tried to start flying again, but has been unable to do so. “I cannot press the rudder and brake; I do not have enough strength in my feet,” he says. “I cannot even rise on my toes for ‘Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh’ by kedushah.”
Nevertheless, ever cheerful and in good spirits, Rosenberg maintains a positive attitude, and notes that he is doing far better today than the doctors ever believed he would be, and is working toward a full recovery, im yirtzeh Hashem.
Indeed, bitachon in Hashem has been a guiding light for the entire Rosenberg family, one that has gotten them through the past year. During the interview with Hamodia, Rosenberg and his wife, Miriam, who live with their children in Spring Valley, N.Y., repeatedly thanked Hashem for the nissim He has performed.
Mrs. Rosenberg notes that immediately after the accident, “Everyone said to me, ‘You’re so lucky that your husband is alive.’” But one of the co-owners of the plane, a man named Warren, said to her, “Miriam we’re blessed! You know this is not luck. Someone is watching you.”
At Sunday’s picnic, Warren displayed a special T-shirt he had made for the event. The T-shirt is a spoof on the standard Coast Guard Accident report. A typical report would say, “2 occupants, Zero fatalities.” But the T-shirt says, “2 occupants, 2 Blessed Survivors.”
Warren’s words constantly inspire Mrs. Rosenberg.
“I said, ‘Warren, if there is nothing else I learned from this experience, I will never forget how blessed we really are.’ ”