Shlichus in Bolivia is one long drama, and Coronavirus just makes things crazier. Read here the story of how Rabbi Itzik Kupchik coped on Shlichus during the Covid-19 pandemic in a third world country, part five • Full Story
Shlichus in Bolivia is one long drama, and Coronavirus just makes things crazier. Read here the story of how Rabbi Itzik Kupchik coped on Shlichus during the Covid-19 pandemic in a third world country, part five.
Everyone is waiting for a happy ending. We are too.
I left you at the end of the last letter, with the bitterly sour taste of a canceled flight.
We had already bought tickets for a flight that would take us out of Bolivia, and then suddenly all the flights were canceled because the government decided to cancel all commercial flights all the way until August.
What can I tell you? We were very disappointed.
We felt we had reached the last stretch. The help we had been given from so many Jews, that don’t even know us allowed us to cover most of the costs of the journey, and we had even gotten the suitcases out of storage. Our excitement was growing and we had to land hard again in view of circumstances…
We recovered. “Think good and it will be good!” This is the Alef Beis of Chabad.
In the interim, there is bad news from other cities in Bolivia. The Corona Virus is spreading. The Bolivians are aware of their limited medical capabilities and are preparing mass graves (may Hashem protect us).
But we know that all this has nothing to do with us. We did not come here under our own steam. We are Shluchim of the Rebbe Melech Hamoshiach. The same Rebbe who sent us will guide us. He will take care of us in the future as well.
The Jewish travel agent tells me suddenly that there is a rescue flight.
A rescue flight is different because it is designated specifically to get foreigners out of Bolivia. It gets a special government permit and would not be subject to arbitrary cancellations like the usual flights.
But in a third world country, until the plane is actually airborne, anything can happen.
And there is a problem. The flight is jam packed and there are no more seats. We need nine air tickets for our family, and another two for my brother and his friend. They had been with us to help us all this time. How could we come up with eleven tickets when there was no place to fit in a mouse?
Our Jewish travel agent speaks to people he knows. A good friend of his is the managing director of the BoA air company. This is the group that is managing this flight.
We try to use persuasion and pressure that this family with kids and a baby need surgical treatment. A couple of days go by and we heard that there had been no flight approved yet. And then it was. The miracle had happened. I go into the office excited and leave holding the tickets. Our joy was great.
The flight left from Santa Cruz in Bolivia and so I need to rush to buy tickets to get there from our city, La Paz. The 18 hours stopover seems to be a small thing. At least we will be getting out of Bolivia…
We will land in Miami and what next?
We begin to check all the options of a flight into Israel and at the same time look into the Halachik side of things.
The Miami flight will go via New York. Should we do the Bris in Miami? In New York? In Israel? A Bris after such a long flight while in quarantine; is that okay? And if we do the Bris on the way back to Israel then how long do we need to stay in Miami or New York before moving on again?
Oh, and there was the added issue that New York imposed mandatory quarantine on anyone coming in from Miami…so scrap that.
The Rav and the doctor are the ones who decided our route. We will be leaving La Paz on Tuesday, 18 hours to wait in Santa Cruz, a flight to Miami, 21 hours there and onto New York. At least during these long stop-overs, we will be able to close ourselves in a hotel. Not that this will be an easy prospect. We will be coming out of the airport with all our little kids and a million suitcases and have to make sure that no passport, no suitcase and no child is mislaid along the way. Then we have to check in and check out and board the plane again…
No. No Bris on the way. Not a good idea.
Okay, so where were we?
Oh. New York. We will wait for 5 hours in the airport and feel close to 770. This is the closest we will get. It’s so near yet too far in the time frame we have.
Then over the Atlantic to Tel Aviv. Corona Virus flights with masks and all. But we will be on the way to Eretz Hakodesh!
I hope I am not mixed up but it seems we land on Friday. Yes. 72 hours of non-stop traveling.
I hope I have not exhausted you with my account of how we will be travelling.
As for us?
We still hope to come in on Ananei Shmaya, it seems it would be a lot easier…
On Friday afternoon we will be in Yerushalayim, but if Chas Vesholom the Coronavirus is still here then, we will get in to cars and go straight to Tzfat Ir Hakodesh. Yes. Into quarantine.
And the Bris? We will be able to breathe and check to see that we are free of the virus, and then the Rav will decide.
Here is the place to thank everyone who helped us. Without you we couldn’t have done it. The tickets on these rescue flights were so expensive! In a third world country, anything can happen. We will write to the Rebbe and ask for a Brocha that everything should go smoothly.