Following my previous post and the funny comments of personal experiences re taking a Torah on a plane, I came accross this story on lechaimweekly.org, which actually happened here
SLICE OF LIFE
Torah on Board
by Mina Gordon
It was the night before Rosh Hashana. My teenage son Mendel was excited
but a bit apprehensive. He was scheduled to fly from Melbourne to
Adelaide, a one-hour flight, to help Rabbi Yossi Engel for the High
Holidays. This was the first time he would be going to Adelaide, and he
was asked to bring a Torah scroll. "Ma," he asked, "what if the airline
gives me trouble about taking the Torah on the plane? I've heard that
they've become very strict lately. I don't want to have to send it with
I tried to reassure him. I reminded him of the time his father had taken
a Torah scroll to Tasmania, and how the non-Jewish man sitting next to
him on the plane was so excited to see the Torah that he offered to
drive him wherever he wished to go upon landing.
"But that was years ago, before all these security regulations. I've
been told that the airline might give me a hard time."
There wasn't much I could answer, so I wished him success and reminded
him that he was acting as the Rebbe's emissary and that he had the
The next afternoon, in the midst of a flurry of preparations for Rosh
Hashana, Mendel called to tell me how things had gone.
"You won't believe what happened. As I walked through the airport,
people came over to kiss the Torah and wish me a 'Shana Tova' (a good
year). When I got to the gate, however, the Qantas airline employee
asked if I was planning on carrying that large item into the cabin. She
wanted it to go underneath with the luggage. I explained that this is a
very holy object, and I must carry it on board with me. She said that
she's not sure if this could be allowed.
"I waited to see what would happen, knowing I had tried my best and the
rest was in G-d's Hands. A few minutes later she called me over. 'Go
down the corridor and through that door. Someone wants to talk to you.'
A man in a pilot's uniform was waiting for me. I wondered what would
happen next. The pilot looked at me and looked at the precious Torah in
my hands, and gave me a big grin. 'Shana Tova!' he said, 'I'm Mordechai.
Shall we put the Torah in the cockpit next to my tefilin?'"
It turned out that Mordechai, a.k.a. Captain Mark DiVeroli, probably the
only commercial pilot in Australia who flies with his talit and tefilin
next to him, just "happened" to be flying the plane my son was taking.
Even though Mordechai offered to keep the Torah in the cockpit, Mendel
preferred to hold it for the duration of the flight or keep it next to
him. Mordechai agreed, and arranged for Mendel to have a spare seat next
to him for the Torah. After landing, the pilot told Mendel that he'd be
back in Melbourne in time for Rosh Hashana, and that he would be at the
shul of Rabbi Motty Liberow, the Chabad Rabbi of Hamerkaz Shelanu
Mordechai also told him that he usually stays in the cockpit before the
flight, and for some reason this time decided to walk over to the
galley, where he heard the cabin crew talking about the Jewish boy who
wanted to bring a large holy object onto the plane. "If I had stayed up
front as I usually do, I would not have known about it," he said, "and I
could not have helped."
"Well," I thought to myself, "G-d has a way of sending us little love
notes to let us know that He is always with us. I must share this."
As soon as I finished speaking to my son, I called Dini Liberow and told
her what had happened. The pilot was a more than a bit surprised when
Rabbi Liberow told the story to his congregation that Rosh Hashana, and
then pointed to Mordechai, sitting among them, as the hero of the story.
After Mendel came back to Melbourne, he kept in touch with Mordechai the
pilot. Before Chanuka, he called him to ask if he wanted a menora sign
for his car. Mordechai was happy to comply. "I was actually involved
many years ago in the Rebbe's menora campaign," he said. "I used to live
in Adelaide, working for a small airline company. I had always dreamed
of getting a job with a large commercial airlines like Qantas, but I
never managed to get an interview.
"One year, about 20 years ago, a yeshiva student came to Adelaide to put
up a public menora. The student needed someone to help him out, and as I
always had my day off on Wednesdays, I was happy to volunteer. I didn't
know much about Chabad or the Rebbe, but it sounded like a nice idea for
a place like Adelaide. I mentioned to my boss that I was planning to
help put up a public menora on Wednesday, my day off. 'Don't count on
it,' he said, 'I want you to come in to work this Wednesday.'
" 'But I made a commitment, because I always have Wednesdays off!' I
" 'If you don't come in on Wednesday, then don't come in on Thursday,
either,' he said.
"I helped the student install the menora on Wednesday, and went to work
on Thursday. 'What? You're here? I told you not to come in if you miss
Wednesday.' And I was fired.
"I wasn't very happy about losing my job, but wanting to make the best
of it, I called the student, and offered to help out some more, as now I
had plenty of time on my hands. The student really felt bad about my
situation, and immediately asked me for my full Hebrew name and my
mother's name. He sent a fax to the Rebbe's office asking for a blessing
for a job for me. A little while later he told me, 'Don't worry, you've
got a blessing from the Rebbe; it will all work out." Shortly
afterwards, I received a totally unexpected phone call. Qantas airlines
wanted me to come in for a job interview. Thanks to the Rebbe's
blessing, I landed the job that I had always wanted!"
Reprinted with permission of the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter