PITTSBURGH (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – A flight home to California took a turn in an unexpected direction for a 70 year old Sacramento rabbi, after a brief encounter with a security officer at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Rabbi Ben-Tzion Welton, chief executive office of Sunrise Kosher – the Vaad of Northern California, had just cleared airport security on April 13th after an extended Pesach visit with his children in Pittsburgh when he was approached by the officer as he sat retying his shoes.
“I thought to myself ‘uh oh, what did I do wrong?’” Rabbi Welton told VIN News. “When he asked if he could get some information from me, I thought I was really in trouble.”
But the security officer said just two words to Rabbi Welton. “Abraham Twerski.”
Not quite sure what to make of the exchange but seeing the haggard look in the man’s eyes, Rabbi Welton assumed that it must have been related to Rabbi Twerski’s many years as the founder and director of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center, which has multiple locations in the Pittsburgh area.
Responding to Rabbi Welton’s quizzical gaze, the officer asked if Rabbi Twerski was still alive.
“I told him that he had passed away recently and after discussing how old Rabbi Twerski had been, he walked away and I thought to myself that I should have spoken to him more, but things move quickly in the airport and he was gone already,” recalled Rabbi Welton.
But a minute later, the officer was back, whispering in Rabbi Welton’s ear “he saved my life,” before moving on.
Stunned by the encounter, Rabbi Welton pulled out his phone and shared it on his family’s WhatsApp group. His son, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Welton, shared the story on Facebook where a member of the Jewish Pittsburgh Facebook group suggested he email it to the Twerski family so that they could hear the story as well.
“I shared the story because it inspired me and I thought other people should be inspired too,” noted Rabbi Yehuda Leib Welton.
The story has also made its way to Twitter, where Yaakov Langer, co-host of the Meaningful People podcast, tweeted it with the words “This made me cry.”