As hundreds of erev Shabbos travelers returned safely to Baltimore, b’siyatta diShmaya, many stories have emerged depicting their experiences and the hashgachah pratis they witnessed.
One incident took place in Perryville, Maryland, a small town just north of the Susquehanna River. Rabbi and Mrs. Doniel Eisemann were part of a group of approximately 40 people who spent Shabbos in a Days’ Inn in Perryville, and Mrs. Eisemann graciously shared her story with Hamodia.
“We left Lakewood about 11:00 … About two hours later, while in northern Maryland, our GPS told us that we should reroute from Interstate 95 to Route 40 (Pulaski Highway), because the Susquehanna River Bridge was closed. However, as we approached the exit, the traffic was at a standstill. We called our Rav, Rabbi Dovid Heber, for advice, and he suggested to try to get a bit closer. However, soon we began to panic – the wind was blowing like crazy, it was getting late, and we were running out of gas. Finally, we found a gas station, and the attendant told us, ‘You are not going anywhere – all the bridges are closed!’ After checking back with Rabbi Heber, we realized it was time to find a hotel and a supermarket where we could buy some food before Shabbos. We entered a Days’ Inn, where we were told that they had two rooms left, and we could have them! After settling in, we found a nearby supermarket where we quickly bought some food – no grape juice or challah, but at least there would be something to eat.
“Back at the hotel, we were surprised to find a group of bachurim who were trying to get rooms. There were none, but with only 15 minutes to shkiah, they had nowhere else to go. Suddenly, within minutes, the lobby filled up with frum people …. including a grandmother; a newlywed couple, families with young children, and lots of yeshivah bachurim.
“There were no rooms available, but the hotel staff was amazingly accommodating. They gave us use of a conference room, where we were able to daven and organize Shabbos seudos, dividing up whatever food we had. The seudah was beautiful … all took turns saying divrei Torah and sang zemiros together. …
“On Shabbos morning, a non-Jew who works for Hatzalah of Baltimore showed up to make sure that everyone was safe. He also brought a lot of food, sent by generous fellow Baltimore community members. It was wonderful!
“Again, the Shabbos seudah was full of singing, ruach, divrei Torah, and this time, Shabbosdig food. The hotel staff was so accommodating, and brought us paper goods, garbage bags and whatever we needed. They were extremely impressed with their encounter with religious Jews. In the afternoon, the men learned and ladies sat around and shmoozed. The children were extremely well-behaved, and we all took turns holding the babies, playing with the children, and so on.
“We found out that one of the guests was a chassan, who is getting married this week. He had his aufruf last Shabbos, but was hoping to spend one last Shabbos with his family in Baltimore. By seudah shelishis the men made a circle and danced with him.
“Before Havdalah, we took a picture to make sure we remember this phenomenal Shabbos and the new friendships we made, before starting off on the short ride back to Baltimore.”