It could be the premise of a hit sitcom: An El Al flight en route to Los Angeles is forced to make an emergency landing in Billings, Montana, and its passengers are stranded at the airport for 12 hours, waiting for the next aircraft to arrive from New Jersey. But here’s the kicker: There’s no kosher food at the terminal, or enough food to feed nearly 300 hungry passengers, many of whom are presumably Jewish. Well guess what? It happened over the weekend.
At 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, an El Al airplane experienced engine issues and was forced to touch down in Montana, a state which boasts a population of 1,350 Jews as of 2014. “You just don’t often get a planeload of Israelis in Billings,” local resident Donna Healy told The Billings Gazette. Healy, who is Jewish, sprung into action, supplying the stranded passengers with snacks and toiletries, such as diapers. “We thought we should do what we could to make them comfortable,” she said. “Kosher food is a part of that.” (Her congregation, Beth Aaron, paid for the goods.)
Rebbetzin Chavie Bruk of Chabad Montana in Bozeman also got word of the incident. So she packed her three children into her car and drove 150 miles (about a two-hour journey) to deliver a smorgasbord of cold cuts galore, hummus, eggplant, fruit and bagels. “It was a tremendous kiddush Hashem—amazing and inspiring!” gushed Israeli passenger Hillel Fuld about the impromptu kosher food delivery.
Apparently, El Al crew members also went on a Costco run, nabbing lifetime supplies of grapes, Cheerios, milk, and sacs upon sacs of what appears to be onions.
The famished passengers noshed on the delights, kibbitzed, and Facebooked to pass the time. In their 12 hour interim, they had a feast fit for kings and queens due to numerous supermarket sweeps.
The well-nourished, jet-lagged passengers eventually landed in Los Angeles at 4:45 pm.
Tess Cutler is an intern at Tablet.