June 16, 2024
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June 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I arrived at the Memphis “International” Airport on Sunday with plenty of time to spare.

The one-terminal airport is quite small, and I wondered what international flights depart from there? I discovered that the sole direct international flights that depart from the airport are to Cancun, Mexico. I guess that qualifies it as an “International Airport.” I arrive at the gate, and the boarding process begins. I have not checked in any luggage, as I have not had the best experiences with checked in baggage.

I once landed in Newark, and there was a slight drizzle. When I arrived at the baggage carousel, the announcement was made that the baggage handlers would be unable to de-baggage (is that a word?) the plane due to the inclement weather. After about a 45-minute wait (and it seemed the rain got heavier, not lighter), the luggage began to appear.

That incident pales compared to when my luggage went to Thailand, instead of Tel Aviv. I feel confident boarding the plane as my carry-on bag conforms with United Airlines’ carry-on policy.

Their policy states: “The maximum size of a carry-on bag for it to fit in the overhead bin is 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches, including any handles or wheels,”—mine was well within limits. As I enter the plane, which is quite small, I quickly notice that the overhead bin above my seat compares to the size of the overhead space on an Egged bus in Israel! Indeed, the small compartment was not even large enough for my hat to fit in! My worst nightmare was about to begin. I am always concerned about how frum Jews look and act on the plane.

As I come equipped with a carry-on, and decked out with my hat and a jacket, I always attempt to board as early as possible. This way, I can quickly store my “stuff” and take my seat without bothering anyone with finding a place for my hat or jacket. As the average traveler from Memphis to Newark—a less than a three-hour flight—boards the plane with a baseball cap and, perhaps, a small backpack, I certainly did not want to appear entitled to more space than others.

Alas, my best-laid plans have not panned out.

As I board the plane, I realize there is no way for my carry-on to fit in the overhead bin. I am starting to sweat as I stand in the aisle with my carry-on, and the line of people boarding the plane continues to grow longer and longer. I cannot go forward since that would not help alleviate the situation. If there is no space on top in row 12, there won’t be space in row 16. I cannot go back as the line of passengers’ snakes out the cabin door.

Will someone begin to say, “Hey, buddy, you’re holding up the line?” Will another passenger comment to her husband, “Look at the Jew; does he think he owns this plane like the Jews own everything else?” Will the little boy behind me ask his mother, “Ma, why is that man in the funny black coat and hat just standing in the aisle?” Will his mother answer, “I don’t know, but he’s certainly being rude by standing there?”

Is someone filming this entire incident on their cell phone? Will this video go viral and reach the New York Times front pages? Will the article be translated into Yiddish and run on their front page?

I can see it now; the banner headline will read: “Ultra-Othodox Jew attempts to illegally monopolize all of the overhead bins on a flight from Memphis to Newark.

Today, on a flight from Memphis to Newark, a clearly visible and identifiable Ultra-Orthodox Jew—who probably never received a proper secular education—caused a commotion on a United flight, which almost led to the greatest domestic crisis in decades.

Sporting a beard, hat and ritual objects known as tefillin, 64-year-old Ron Yitzchok Eisenman attempted to monopolize and illegally access all of the upper storage bins on the United Flight.

Passengers reacted with shock and dismay, as Eisenman attempted to store his Jewish clothing and carry-on in bins designed to hold one copy of the New York Times print edition. Many minority passengers were, undoubtedly, on the plane as Eisenman displayed ‘white privilege’ by seeking out a bin just for his belongings.

As passengers waited up to 11 seconds for Eisenman to finally be seated, one passenger complained of air sickness, and emergency medical services were alerted, although not needed.

Some on the plane—who wished to remain anonymous—thought Eisenman was a spy for the Mossad, seeking access to the overhead bins to store contraband. The FBI, CIA, TSA, ICE and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were all put on notice and ready to intercede if needed.

President Biden was quickly apprised of the situation and stated, ‘The United States opposes discrimination of any kind and allows equal access to storage bins and lavatories on every commercial airline.’ It is unclear why Mr. Biden mentioned lavatories. When questioned, the President mumbled, ‘Jews are always heads of laboratories.’

Marc Zuckerberg quickly ordered the closing of Eisenman’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

When told Eisenman has no social media accounts, Zuckerberg replied, ‘We support open dialogue and rigorous debate on all subjects. Obviously, Eisenman refuses to participate in social media, for he refuses to hear other views.’

After what seemed like an eternity (actual time 13 seconds), Eisenman finally sat down, and the plane proceeded to Newark Liberty Airport without incident.”

Will United Airlines issue a statement declaring, “United Airlines is proud of its policy of complete inclusion. We provide equal access to all passengers to the overhead bins—No passenger shall infringe on the rights of another passenger based on race, creed or color?”

I had reached a state of utter panic and helplessness; I silently daven, “Hashem, please help me!”

Suddenly, before pandemonium breaks out, the passenger directly behind me quickly says, “The bin to your right is larger than the one on your left. Your carry-on will fit there perfectly.”

I snatch up my carry-on, place it in the overhead, jump into my seat, fasten my seatbelt and give the biggest smile and thank you to this anonymous savior. As he passes me, he smiles and says, “You are welcome, b’simcha!”

I take a double take at this bareheaded man, and he smiles and winks. At that moment, he knows, and I know we are brothers. The flight continued uneventfully, as I drifted into a peaceful and simcha-filled sleep. We are all brothers and all connected. Never forget that.

Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is the rabbi of Ahavas Israel in Passaic.

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