Jew in the City, a small site that works to fight stereotypes, has reported an unusual incident: After an Arab woman collapsed on a trans-Atlantic flight, two hasidic Jews came to the rescue and administered first aid.
The two hasidim, Beirish Shonbrun and Avraham Meir Miller, both of Kiryat Yoel in New York, were on a plane to the Ukraine, to celebrate a Torah dedication and a bar mitzva at a small Ukrainian yeshiva in the city of Kuresteen.
Both of them have visited Kuresteen’s yeshiva almost monthly for the past 15 years, and Shonbrun is a “mohel,” a specialist in Jewish ritual circumcision, as well as a successful businessman and entrepreneur.
At about halfway through their plane’s 10-hour flight, an Arab woman approached flight attendants stationed in the plane’s rear, claiming she did not feel well. Just before she reached them, she collapsed on the floor of the plane.
When the announcement asking anyone with medical training to report to the staff immediately was blasted over the intercom, Shonbrun immediately responded, yelling at Miller to wake up on his way to the back of the plane. Both men brought their medical kits and certification cards along with them. Though there was a doctor present on the plane, he did not have his ID with him, so the two hasidim were asked to help instead.
Both Miller and Shonbrun are longtime volunteers in Kiryat Yoel’s Hatzolah organization.
When Shonbrun arrived at the scene, the Arab woman was unresponsive. After he woke her up, she began throwing up, and Shonbrun cleaned her up and took her vitals, while he asked about her medical history, then stabilized her.
Since she spoke neither English nor Yiddish, another Arab passenger was forced to serve as translator. By the time the pilot asked if an emergency landing was necessary, the woman was feeling better and it was no longer necessary.
Shonbrun explains, “I became an EMT when I was young. In addition to my businesses in contracting and in roofing and siding…I grew up in Williamsburg and moved to Kiryat Yoel when I got married 20 years ago. I try to help people all day….It was a nice kiddush Hashem [a sanctification of God’s name]. A man came up to me and told me that he never saw anything like this.
‘How did I do it?’ He asked me. He only ever sees hasidim turn the plane upside down. But not this time.”