El Al Goes The Extra Miles to Bring Cancer-Stricken Girl to Camp Simcha

(Thursday, August 8th, 2013)

elalThe following story was reported by Rabbi Yaakov Pinsky, director of Chaiyanu/Chai Lifeline Israel.

I have just witnessed one of the most incredible stories regarding El Al that I have ever come across in my life.

Today we sent 30 Israeli children with cancer to Camp Simcha in the United States for a life-affirming break from their illnesses. For the past 20 years, El Al has been our partner in the process, helping us to make sure our children are safe, secure, and happy during their journey.

After everyone was checked in, the Chaiyanu medical staff gave our children a final pre-flight examination and our group was seated on the flight. Once everyone was comfortable, our senior staff member collected the passports to have them prepared for entry into the United States. The passports were counted, and to everyone’s shock, one was missing.

No one could find Inbar’s passport. Our staff looked high and low, in and under every seat and seat pocket. No passport was found. The flight attendants immediately called the ground crew to help them locate the lost passport. The airport was alerted, and they too searched everywhere from the boarding gate to the El Al aircraft.

Time was passing fast and the flight needed to depart. Still no passport was found. The ground crew entered the plane and searched frantically for Inbar’s passport. After 25 minutes of pulling apart the aircraft, the crew admitted defeat. El Al had no choice but to tell Inbar that she could not fly. El Al sadly called her mother to tell her that Inbar’s passport was lost and that the girl, who had been fighting illness so valiantly, would not be able to fly to Camp Simcha.

What a horrible experience for an 11 year old girl to have to go through. As the reality dawned on everyone, passengers, crew, our group, and Inbar herself, the mood on the plane went from dismay at the inconvenience to sadness and shock that Inbar was losing her chance for a vacation from illness. It was terrible to experience. It wasn’t enough that she has cancer, but now Inbar was facing another horrible disappointment in her life. The flight attendants were crying as they escorted Inbar off the plane. The doors shut, and the plane left the gate.

The plane was almost on the runway when some shouted she found Inbar’s passport in another child’s knapsack. The news was heard on the entire airplane, and of course the crew immediately radioed that the missing passport was on the plane. But once a plane departs from the gate, it does not return to the gate to pick up a passenger.

So began frantic phone calls between the El Al staff and airline crew on the plane, the El Al offices on the ground, and the Ben Gurion Airport authorities. It seems so hopeless. It really looked like Inbar was in for another disappointment. But after 15 minutes of phone calls, and a subsequent delay of more than a half hour, El Al did the unthinkable and unprecedented: the plane returned to the gate to pick up this 11-year-old girl with cancer and take her to Camp Simcha.

Inbar couldn’t believe it. Her dream came true! Those of us on the plane experienced something as well. Instead of the hostility that usually greets a plane delay, there were cheers and tears on that El Al plane, flight 007. Passengers and crew shared Inbar’s happiness and excitement.

Today was one of the greatest moments I have ever experienced! There are no words that can describe the heartfelt gratitude and appreciation we have to El Al and the Ben Gurion Airport authorities. They have performed a miracle for some very special people today. It was an event for the history books, and everyone on that plane will be forever touched by El Al’s determination to accompany Inbar to the US.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

6 Comments

  1. Lo Soguru says:

    Thank you for this inspiring story.Thank you El Al.

  2. 1818 says:

    we all know that hashem rewards certain people based on their actions toward their fellow man.
    I bet today was a day some of those rewards were being given out.

  3. aries2756 says:

    Kol Hakavod, mi k’amcha Yisroel!

  4. bklynmom says:

    Beautiful and touching and thank you EL AL, the airline of the State of Israel. Wow, do hope that Inbar has a wonderful time at camp.

  5. samtheman says:

    Great story

  6. kosher says:

    As I read the article immediatly a tear of joy dropped from my eye.
    Being that my daughter was a counselor in camp simcha special and keeps up with her 6 year old camper thoughout the year via visits and phone calls, and who joined in the simcha of my daughters wedding ( I personally felt that Chayla should be wheeled down the chuppah prior to the Kallah, what greater Zchus can it be for a Kallah). Knowing what Camp sincha does for these gets I felt along personally with every word in article.Ingbar may you enjoy camp to the fullt and ey”h have a refuah shleima a Kvsa va’chasema tova. Hashem look down on Klal Yisroel whoes hards are open for Chesed and bring the Geulah.

    El Al I’m proad of you.

    Also please keep Shlomo (sprit of camp simcha) in your tefiles for a refuah for Shlomo ( I don’t know his name, just tell hashem Shlomah Ben Chava)
    Next year see each other in Yurusalem, in health, and SIMCHA AND NOT need El Al any more except for O’Lah Regel.

    signed : Tzofnas Pa’nach

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe to RSS Feed For This Article