What does a plane full of Jews heading to Israel eat when they end up stranded for a day in Montana?
No, we aren't just repeating a groan-worthy and ill-advised joke we overheard while passing through a rowdy Borscht Belt revival. Nor are we working on our pitch for a Sanka- and shuffleboard-fueled retirement community in Boca. This question arose from a totally real incident that actually occurred just yesterday, an incident that appears to be an honest display of people's ability to unite and help one another, regardless of those many circumstances that drive us apart.
According to local news KTVQ, an El Al plane heading from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv—two bastions of some pretty good falafel and matzo balls—was forced to make an unexpected landing in Montana yesterday after the plane's fire indicator was activated. According to Mike Glancy, the Montana airport's operations supervisor, there didn't appear to be fire or smoke of any kind and mechanics were unable to immediately diagnose the problem. As such, the plane's 279 passengers along with the 20 crew members were forced to spend the better part of a day stranded at the Billings Logan International Airport in very goyish Billings, Montana.
This is precisely when the castaway passengers ran into trouble. Billings has a Jewish population of only 0.09 percent. There was absolutely nothing kosher to nosh on at Billings Logan International Airport.
Having somehow heard of the passengers' situation, however, two Billings residents came to the rescue, stat.
Mother and daughter Donna and Kat Healy hightailed it to a local supermarket and purchased all the kosher food they could find for the passengers.
Kat Healy posted a notice on her Facebook page: "Brought kosher food up to the airport for the passengers on an El Al 777 flight who had an emergency landing in Billings from their flight Tel Aviv [to] Los Angeles this morning. Haven't heard that much Hebrew since being in Israel. And yes, I brought hummus."
Thankfully, among the kosher fare in the Billings supermarket is that stalwart of Jewish cuisine: hummus. Donna and Kat Healy did Jewish mothers everywhere proud by making sure the passengers didn't get even a little peckish.
It turns out that the extremely landlocked state of Montana was not used to having to deal with international flights at all; Logan International Airport does not even employ customs agents. Still, the crew and passengers reportedly remained "very calm" until another aircraft arrived from Newark to take the passengers the rest of the way to Tel Aviv.
That aircraft was presumably filled with Kosher goodies—so no one should go hungry.