200 Stranded El Al Passengers Find Shabbos Haven on Rhodes, Greece

It was less than three hours until Shabbos on the island of Rhodes, Greece, when a group of 200 Jewish passengers realized that they would be stranded. The local shluchim rushed into action.

By Bruria Efune – Chabad.org

It was less than three hours until sundown on Friday afternoon on the island of Rhodes, Greece, when a group of 200 Jewish passengers realized that they would be stranded for Shabbos. Their El Al flight had departed Thessaloniki towards Israel 10 hours earlier, but they were only in the air for a few minutes before the plane had to make an emergency landing on Rhodes.

They had hoped to fly to Tel Aviv before sundown and the start of Shabbat, but it was not going to happen.

That’s when Rabbi Uri and Devorah Leah Medina, co-directors of Chabad of Rhodes, received a phone call from El Al flight attendants with an urgent request for help.

“The first thing we did was send over baguette sandwiches, schnitzel and other food,” says Rabbi Medina. “They were stressed and hungry, and had little kids who had been stranded without food for hours.”

It was already 4 p.m., and the Medinas had already prepared meals for their usual 200 Shabbat guests—now they had just a few hours to set up accommodations and a second meal for an additional couple of hundred.

Rabbi Medina escorted the group to the Sheraton Hotel, where he had arranged rooms for everyone. He and his wife, together with Chabad House staff, put in a superhuman effort to cook and prepare the two extra Shabbat meals for their newest guests—complete with the traditional fish, meat, and freshly baked challahs.

Ready by Sundown

At the very last minute before sundown, everything was ready.

“Baruch Hashem, we had an amazing Shabbat!” exclaims Medina. “We had beautiful singing and unity, with a farbrengen through the night. Everyone was so grateful that despite the flight trouble, they were able to experience such a wonderful Shabbat together.”

After Shabbat, the Chabad House served the travelers the Melaveh Malkah meal before wishing them farewell and safe travels back to Israel.

“We feel blessed that we were able to help these passengers; this is what the Rebbe expects of us,” Medina told Chabad.org. “We discussed on Shabbat, with all the stranded passengers–wherever you may find yourself, it is divine providence. There is a reason G‑d sent you there, some kind of mission. You are never stuck; you are always in the right place at the right time.”

Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org.

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