Most of the time, an airplane going back to the gate means mechanical failure or other issues. But when an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to New York stopped and went back to the gate, it was for a much more special reason: to make sure that an 11-year-old cancer patient could get on board the flight.

Inbar Chomsky was with a group of kids attending Camp Simcha, an upstate New York summer camp for kids with serious illnesses. Inbar cheerfully boarded the plane with the rest of her group, but when a counselor went around to collect all the kids’ passports, Inbar suddenly discovered that hers had gone missing.

Although crew members and passengers spent more than half an hour looking for the lost passport, when it didn’t turn up young Inbar, who was in tears, was forced to get off of the plane.

However, the story wasn’t over yet. Just moments after the plane pulled away from the gate, a fellow camper discovered Inbar’s passport by chance in a backpack. Although El Al, like most other airlines, has a strict policy against returning to the gate once security has been cleared and the doors have been closed, they made a “rare” exception for the 11-year-old.

Rabbi Yaakov Pinsky, the director of Chaiyanu/Chai Lifeline Israel, a group that works with and supports Camp Simcha, wrote about the experience on his blog for the website Yeshiva World.

“Those of us on the plane experienced something as well,” the rabbi wrote. “Instead of the hostility that usually greets a plane delay, there were cheers and tears on that El Al plane, flight 007. Passengers and crew shared Inbar’s happiness and excitement.”

The flight made it safely to Israel, and Inbar and her friends are spending the rest of the summer at Camp Simcha. The camp, which offers free tuition and airfare for its campers, is designed to give kids with severe illnesses a way to play and enjoy the summer while also staying in a facility with 24/7 medical care. 

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Flight returns to gate for cancer patient
11-year-old camper had lost her passport.