Stranded Israeli passengers receive cowboy hospitality, kosher style

After an El Al flight had to make an emergency landing Sunday morning in Billings, Montana, the local Jewish community leaped into action.

An El Al Boeing 777 airbus in flight.

There are less than 1,500 Jews in the State of Montana, and this weekend, three of them set out to feed three-hundred.

On Sunday morning at about 6 a.m., Mountain Standard Time, Reuters reports, an El Al Israel Airlines flight traveling from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles had to make an emergency landing in Billings, after a cockpit warning light alerted the pilot of a fire in the right engine.

Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting supervisor Mike Glancy told Reuters that fire and transportation officials examined the jet, grounded at Billings Logan International Airport, but found no sign of smoke or fire. No one was injured. For security purposes, Glancy said, the 279 passengers aboard the jet were sequestered in the airport terminal building, where they waited for 12 hours to board a new plane flying in from Newark, New Jersey.

When news of this reached Donna Healy, a member of Congregation Beth Aaron in Billings, she worried that stranded Jews who observe a kosher diet would have nothing to eat, the Billings Gazette reports.

“You just don’t often get a planeload of Israelis in Billings, and we thought we should do what we could to make them comfortable, and kosher food is a part of that,” Ms. Healy told the newspaper.

Healy and her daughter and a friend bought kosher foods, as well as amenities including diapers and deodorant, and drove them to Billings International.

Passenger Michael Eisenberg told the Billings Gazette, “Once the rabbis came, there was more than enough. Tons.”

Mr. Eisenberg joked that Billings residents were left with a month’s supply of bagels.

Speaking on behalf of the travelers, Eisenberg said airport officials were hospitable. He also maintained a cool attitude, saying, “I missed a couple meetings today in (San Francisco). But you know what the definition of a good flight is? One where you land safely and get to walk away from. It’s all good.”

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