Bar Mitzvah in the Cockpit

When Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld of OK Kosher thanked a pilot, he got ‘zei gezunt’  as a response. Those two words led to an impromptu Bar Mitzvah and celebration.

By: reporter

An ordinary trip to kasher a hotel took a surprise turn, that ended with what may have been the first Bar Mitzvah celebrated in a cockpit.

The rabbonim and mashgichim of OK Kosher are no strangers to travel. Their responsibilities frequently take them to factories around to world to ensure the kashrus of the products. Each trip is used as a catalyst to spread yiddishkeit in those far-flung areas.

Just today, Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld, head of the restaurant, hotel and catering division of OK Kosher, and Rabbi of Manhattan Beer, took a flight to The Bahamas to kasher a restaurant in the world-famous “Atlantis” hotel.

At the end of the flight, Rabbi Kalman headed over to the flight crew to thank them. Seeing Rabbi Kalman dressed as a frumme yid, the pilot responded with “zei gezunt”. Hearing the words in Yiddish, Rabbi Weinfeld immediately asked the pilot if he was Jewish. The pilot responded that indeed, he was Jewish, and he had even put on tefillin once in his life.

Rabbi Weinfeld offered the pilot to put on tefillin then and there, and the pilot gladly agreed. Looking for a quiet spot, Rabbi Weinfeld and the pilot entered the cockpit to put on the tefillin. While Rabbi Weinfeld was wrapping the tefillin, the co-pilot came into the cockpit. Seeing what was going on, he mentioned that he too was Jewish. He also gladly agreed to put on tefillin, and mentioned matter-of-factly that, although he knew “Shma Yisroel” by heart, he had never had the chance to put on tefillin.

Hearing this, Rabbi Weinfeld excitedly informed him that they would be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah right there in the cockpit! The 44 co-polit was visibly emotional as he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in the very cockpit he flies in every day.

Following the impromptu Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Weinfeld broke into a dance with the pilot and co-pilot, singing and celebrating the clear hashgacha protis that had led to the moment. “I’m still overwhelmed,” Rabbi Weinfeld told, “this is a story for the books.”

“Every Lubavitcher has to always keep this in mind,” Rabbi Weinfeld continued “No matter if he is on business, for work, or even on vacation, he always must know that he has a mission to spread yiddishkeit, and one never knows what he can accomplish in any place.”

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