United Airlines pilots mark bar mitzvah, dance with rabbi post-landing in Bahamas

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A United Airlines Boeing 757-33. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

As Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld was helping one pilot wrap tefillin in the cockpit, the co-pilot walked in and said that he was also Jewish.

(January 15, 2020 / JNS) Two pilots for United Airlines joined a rabbi traveling on their plane for a dance and seized the opportunity to wear tefillin after they touched down in the Bahamas on Monday,reported COLlive.

Right before Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. N.Y., deplaned the United Airlines flight in the Bahamas, where he was going to oversee the koshering process of a local restaurant that would be hosting a Jewish group, he stopped by the cockpit to thank the pilots.

In response, one of them replied, Zei gezunt! (a Yiddish phrase that means “Be well”).

After the pilot confirmed to Weinfeld, who serves as the head of the food-service department of OK Kosher and rabbi of Manhattan Beer, that he is Jewish, the rabbi asked him if he had put on tefillin, also known as phylacteries. The pilot said he had done so once before and would be happy to put it on again.

As Weinfeld was helping him put on the Jewish prayer items in the cockpit, the co-pilot walked in and said that he was also Jewish.

“He remarked that he knows the Shema and says it sometimes, but he said he is 44 years old and had never put tefillin on in his life,” Weinfeld told COLlive.

Both pilots ended up wrapping tefillin, and the three men danced together while singing the popular Jewish tune “Siman Tov U’Mazel Tov,” celebrating the bar mitzvah of the pilot who put on tefillin for the first time ever.

“After the flight, the pilot was in touch and told me that his family is thrilled that he had a bar mitzvah, and said that he would like to keep in touch to learn more,” said Weinfeld.

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