Some challenging health issues in our family necessitated changing our flight to Israel. Instead of leaving on Wednesday afternoon we left on Thursday evening. Simple math shows the possibility of arriving after the Shabbat Kala, bride, has been ushered in on Friday evening. Our flight was due in at about 5 pm on Friday and, were we to be delayed a couple of hours in NJ, we’d most definitely arrive at home in Herzliya after Shabbat had started.

All indications were for an ontime departure. That is until the announcement that the plane was going to need replacement. No little issue obviously. Something grand enough to require another aircraft. Do they even have extra 777’s just hanging out awaiting a call? I guess in a United hub like Newark, the answer is yes. But our substitute was needy of a bath and loading up on what they call catering (hmph! no caterer that I’d ever hire!) so we’d have to wait. And wait some more. But Shabbat wouldn’t wait.

For those who worried about Shabbat this was a real test of faith. It was either live dangerously or wait until Sunday to get on with their travels. There were quite a few kippah-ed heads. In my survey they all waited.

In the departure lounge I started chatting with a young woman sitting next to me with a huge piece of hand luggage. Except it wasn’t a suitcase at all. It was a very special article of clothing. It seems that, somewhere in Jerusalem, an eager young man was waiting for his own Shabbat bride, and the hand luggage of my seat mate was her treasured wedding gown. She is to be married on Tuesday and was rushing to Israel in time for the Shabbat Katan, known as the aufruff. I thought she deserved an upgrade to Business First but United thought otherwise. I was able to persuade them to give her a whole row which definitely gave her a more pleasant ride than squished together in row 40E, a middle in the back. She’s a lovely person and will be a wonderful wife…….and she did, of course, make it on time for the Shabbat Katan. Mazal tov! I can’t wait to see the pictures.

Also waiting was a mature couple from South Carolina. This was their first trip to Israel. They had been booked previously until life sent them a curve ball when a child was taken seriously ill. A slow recovery meant their trip would be delayed, years as it turned out. So Thursday was their day except that the flight from South Carolina to Newark was very late and they missed their scheduled afternoon flight. They sat in the airport, uncomplainingly, for 7 hours, but, ultimately, I was able to be the first to say, Welcome to Israel.

So the bride made it. The South Carolinians made it. And you know what: somehow we all did as well. Things moved very very fast. Passport control was zip zip zip. Suitcases came rushing at us. Our rental car was ready and waiting. Even the traffic on the Ayalon made way for the travelers. We and the Shabbat bride arrived on time and we were able to sit down and enjoy my sister’s catering (which I would definitely hire!), soup to nuts, and a delicious cake made with a four year old sous chef’s proud assistance.

And as always, when we are here we feel we have never left. We are home again, and despite the heat, which is intense, it feels good to be b’bayit! How good it is to return home.