In with the men at last

November 20, 2007

Six hours into my flight from Tel Aviv to New York, the Pilot asks over the PA if there is a doctor on board. As this is El Al, a large proportion of passengers make their way the cockpit. The pilot should have just been more specific and asked for a cardiologist!

We have to make an emergency landing as a passenger needs immediate hospitalization. This delay will add two extra hours onto our twelve hour flight.

Once on the ground, the Hassidim from Williamsburg and Crown Heights organize a minyan. Since we are not in flight, they do not need to congregate at the back of the plane. Instead they take to opportunity to stand in the aisles the full length of the aircraft.

I stand up by my seat, stretch my arms above my head and roll my shoulders, trying to put the patient’s needs over my own frustration at the wait.

All those years of longing to be part of the men’s minyan, peering over the mechitzah or down from the ladies gallery at the action on the other side of the fence, are over. I am sandwiched in between two elderly rabbis with long white beards, swinging sidelocks and long silk caftans who have begun davening Mincha.

Passengers are taking photos of this unusual event, nudging and winking at each other, but I am in my element, answering Amen and Baruch Shmo to all their prayers.

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