No Hatzolah Air transports are ever ordinary, but some are indeed extraordinary. That was the case on Wednesday when a cross-country Hatzolah Air flight united a kehilla in Manchester with a sefer torah it had long been waiting for.
The story began several months ago, when a couple from Los Angeles sought to send a Sefer Torah to Manchester, New Jersey, for their childrens’ shul to use. However, the logistical and halachic challenges of transferring a Sefer Torah from the West Coast to the East Coast posed an enormous obstacle. Several options were considered, including a cross-country drive and a first-class commercial flight for the Sefer Torah, but all were nixed due to concerns that it would not be treated with the utmost kavod befitting it.
But then, Hatzolah Air came to the rescue, literally and figuratively. The couple contacted Malkiel Gradon, a Hatzolah Air official and extraordinary baal chesed from Los Angeles, asking if he knew of a solution to this confounding issue. He informed them that there would be an upcoming medical transport from New York to Los Angeles, and it was likely that the Sefer Torah could be flown to the East Coast on the flight’s “empty leg” return to New York.
The medical transport took place on Wednesday morning, bringing a seriously ill patient from the New York region to a hospital in Los Angeles. Upon its conclusion, the couple was told to come to the airport with the Sefer Torah, which was then placed securely on its own seat and strapped in.
For the next 5.5 hours, Hatzolah Air flight paramedic Benjamin Diamond ensured that the Sefer Torah was properly cared for as it made its 3,000-mile journey across the United States.
At 10:45 PM Wednesday night, the Hatzolah Air aircraft touched down at Westchester County Airport, with the flight paramedic carefully removing the Sefer Torah from the plane and transferring it to a waiting family member at the terminal, bringing Hatzolah Air’s memorable mission to a close.
Hatzolah Air shared the story on Instagram, writing: “We were so honored to say ‘YES’ immediately to this Mitzvah and placed the Torah in a secure seat, making sure that it was treated with the ultimate respect… Today we have a new definition of ‘One Team, One Mission.’