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July 17, 2017 4:49 pm

Jewish Woman’s Tale of Helping Soothe Child on Autism Spectrum During Overseas Flight Goes Viral

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Split images showing Rochel Groner soothing an autistic child during their flight to the US. Photo: Facebook.

A Jewish woman’s story of how she comforted a child with autism on a recent flight from Europe to the US has gone viral after being shared on Facebook by her husband.

Rochel Groner, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, was on her way back home with her husband from Israel after chaperoning a Taglit-Birthright trip when the encounter took place. An hour into her eight-hour connecting flight from Europe, and after a three-hour delay before takeoff, a young boy with autism became agitated, Groner’s husband, Rabbi Bentzi Groner, said in a Facebook post on Friday. He added about the child, “His cries were heard throughout the plane and you could feel the tension among the other passengers. No one wanted to say anything but it was getting very uncomfortable.”

Shortly after, Rabbi Goner said Rochel walked over to the boy’s seat and extended her hand to him. He looked up, took it, and they then walked together to the bulkhead, where Rochel sat rocking and playing with him for a few hours.

Rabbi Groner’s post and photos of Rochel’s efforts have garnered over 4,000 “likes” and been shared over 700 times on Facebook. Many Facebook users applauded Rochel for her actions and called her “inspiring.” One social media user wrote, “We need more people like this in the world.”

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“While most of the passengers watched in awe little did they know that for Rochel this is her life,” said Rabbi Groner, referring to Rochel’s position as co-director of the Charlotte, NC chapter of Friendship Circle and ZABS Place, a thrift boutique shop and employment training center for young adults with disabilities.

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