My daughter-law and two daughters arrived in Italy two weeks ago and enjoyed the sites of Milano, Firenze, and Roma before flying on to Spain. Her father lives in Casablanca, Morocco and has a home in Torremolinos, Spain where the three of them are enjoying the heat and the beaches of the city.
From Spain, they were scheduled to fly to Casablanca to visit with papa and papi. And then, it happened.
Air Maroc went on strike and their flight to Casablanca was cancelled. So they are stranded in the luxurious comforts of Spain awaiting either the end of the strike, an alternative air flight, or a return to Italy for a direct flight to Morocco. Unexpected problem but my granddaughters are enjoying themselves.
My daughter-in-law’s father is a wonderful man and a devout Jew. During the 1948 War of Independence he arrived in Israel as a volunteer in our brand-new army. And he remained for several years. Later he flew to France, where as a Moroccan, he was entitled to French citizenship. There he bought an apartment in Paris and travels back to Morocco several times during the year to take care of his business which still operates there under the supervision of his Jewish cousins.
I was stranded only once in my lifetime as a very young man who had arrived in Dublin, Ireland, the capital of the Emerald Isle and the home of decent beer. My connecting flight to Tel-Aviv had been delayed due to some mechanical problem and was not resolved until three days later.
My hotel expenses were covered by El-Al, but my beer expenses were not. Nevertheless, I drowned my discomfort with the soothing taste of several Guiness Stouts. And I rented a bicycle to see what I could see in my three-day enforced visit.
Dublin was an attractive city. I visited the synagogue where once HaRav Abraham Isaac Kook, Palestine’s first Chief Rabbi, had served as Ireland’s Chief Rabbi, followed by Isaac Herzog’s grandfather who, in later years, became Chief Rabbi of Israel.
When I saw shop-signs indicating a Jewish-owned business (Cohen’s haberdashery. Levine’s jewelry) I stopped in to say “shalom”. Mr. Cohen treated me to a kosher-style lunch.
From Dublin I cycled to Limerick, very Irish with straw hatched roofs on homes. While parking the bicycle and walking on the city’s streets, a middle-aged woman approached me and asked if I was a Jew. I was taken a-back by the question not knowing if she was a friend or a foe. But she introduced herself as Mrs. Wolf and told me that she thought I looked Jewish. She was pleased to know that I was waiting my flight to Tel-Aviv.
Over a cup of tea in a lovely café she told me somethings about the history of the Jews in Ireland. So being stranded for three days was not a waste of time. I learned many things about Jewish accomplishments in Ireland, and some of them remain in my old memory to this day.
On the second evening in Ireland, the hotel desk notified me that my flight would be departing for Tel-Aviv at 15:00 (3 p.m.) the next day and they arranged transport for me to the airport.
Some five or so hours later I arrived at Lydda airport (long before it became Ben-Gurion Airport) and upon disembarking, I kneeled down and kissed the tarmac with a she-he-che-yanu prayer on my lips.
Being stranded in Ireland could never compare to being stranded in Spain with its marvelous beaches, white sand, pristine waters, café tables with umbrellas to protect from the weather, shops of all kinds, and many food choices which included vegetarian menus for kosher diners.
At this writing, my daughter-in-law together with Eliana and Michaela are still waiting in Spain for a flight to Morocco.
And there is an anxious saba waiting to greet them at Casablanca’s main airport with only the multitude of hugs and warm kisses which he can give.
I can testify to how welcome and how delightful they are!