The Hijacked Rosh Yeshiva

In a lecture on rabbinic biographies for Torah in Motion, Orthodox rabbi and history professor Marc B. Shapiro says: “I think the [Nathan] Kamanetsky book was too voyeuristic in those areas. There are times when it is going to be rough to tread. The story of the famous rosh yeshiva who was involved in a hijacking. His behavior on the airplane was very questionable. He separated himself. He got his family there to convince the hijackers that he’s special and that he should be separated. His students in America thought they could raise money to ransom him.”

According to Wikipedia on Yitzchok (Isaac) Hutner (1906–1980): In the late 1960s he began to visit Israel again, planning to build a new yeshiva there. On 6 September 1970, he and his wife, daughter, and son-in-law Yonasan David were returning to New York when their airplane was hijacked by the PFLP Palestinian terrorist organization. The terrorists freed the non-Jewish passengers and held the Jewish passengers hostage on the plane for one week, after which the women and children were released and sent to Cyprus. The hijacked airplanes were subsequently detonated. The remaining 40-plus Jewish men – including Rabbi Hutner, Rabbi David, and two students accompanying Rabbi Hutner, Rabbi Meir Fund and Rabbi Yaakov Drillman – and male flight crew continued to be held hostage in and around Amman, Jordan; Rabbi Hutner was held alone in an isolated location while Jews around the world prayed fervently for his safe release. The terrorists tried to cut off his beard, but were stopped by their commanders. Rabbi Hutner was reunited with the rest of the hostages on 18 September, and was finally released on 26 September and flown together with his family members to Nicosia, Cyprus. Israeli Knesset Member Rabbi Menachem Porush chartered a private plane to meet the Hutners in Nicosia, and gave the Rav his own shirt and tallit katan, since Rabbi Hutner’s tallit, tefillin, shirt, jacket and hat had been confiscated during his three-week ordeal. Rabbi Porush reported that Rabbi Hutner had also lost 20 kilograms (44 lb), and his students appeared similarly emaciated. On 28 September Rabbi Hutner and his group were flown back to New York via Europe, and were home in time for the first night of Rosh Hashana.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Rabbis. Bookmark the permalink.