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Hijacked!

Yael Schuster

In the summer of 1985, Suzie Herzberg boarded a plane to fly home from her honeymoon. Minutes later, two armed terrorists took over the plane, shouting, “We come to die.” Throughout the harrowing 37 hours that followed, Hashem’s guiding Hand was clear.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Athens International Airport, Greece. A young man hastily approached the TWA ticket counter. His flight to New York had just been canceled and he was determined to get onto Flight 847 to Boston instead. The flight was about to leave, and no matter how hard he pleaded, the ticket agent was adamant — sorry, but he could not board the plane. His desperation surely aroused the sympathy of onlookers. But all is not always as it seems: Ali Atwa’s inability to get on that flight may have determined the fate of 153 lives.

*

Suzie and Richard Herzberg’s honeymoon on a Mediterranean cruise had been glorious: riding a donkey up to the summit of Santorini, exploring the islands of Corfu and Rhodes, taking in the Parthenon in Athens. As she settled into her first-class seat for the flight to Boston, Suzie thought to herself, Life must be good if I’m actually looking forward to ending my honeymoon and going back home.

As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, Suzie reached down into her striped bag to retrieve her wedding list and thank you cards, hoping to finish writing them on the long transatlantic flight. “I was rummaging through my bag when I heard a commotion. It sounded like glass breaking, and I figured the stewardess must have dropped something,” says Suzie, who was 27 at the time. “When I heard a woman scream, I naively wondered if she had gotten cut by the glass I assumed had broken.”

Then Suzie looked up.

Two fierce-looking men, obviously Arabs, were frantically motioning with their guns for the first-class passengers to get out of their seats.

G-d, please don’t let this be happening, was Suzie’s first thought, followed immediately by My ring! Inscribed on the band was the Hebrew phrase Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi Li.

“Getting this ring off my finger, I knew, was a matter of survival. But having been in a highly humid atmosphere for the past two weeks, it just wouldn’t budge. With rising panic, I struggled to get it off, until finally, by the grace of G-d, I succeeded and hid it in my wallet. This misstep would haunt me for the rest of my 37-hour ordeal, as I was in a constant state of terror that they would find the ring in my wallet and identify me as its Jewish owner.”

Then Suzie did something that she cannot explain, and which she says was nothing less than G-d placing His Hands over hers and directing her movements. “I had two rings on my other ring finger. I took off the sapphire one and put it where the Ani l’Dodi ring had been. And then I immediately thought, What did I do that for?

The answer to that question would hit her like a bolt of lightning the next day.

 

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