One morning in the winter of 5761 (early 1961), I received a telephone call from an excited Rabbi Shemtov who was in London. He informed me of a special charter flight due to leave in a month from London to New York. The cost was only £35 ($100) per passenger, round trip. This included all meals, and transportation to and from the airports. Additionally, he had taken the liberty of reserving three seats for myself my wife Roselyn and our daughter Hindy (our son Avrohom was learning in 770, so we would meet up with him there).

It was undoubtedly an exceptionally cheap price, ridiculously low, an absolute bargain; but I really could not afford the time to leave my business for nearly three weeks. Besides, I had already been to the Rebbe twice, the second time being just twelve months previously.

Rabbi Shemtov was quite upset with my rejection of this wonderful opportunity to visit the Rebbe once again, and he pleaded, urged and finally persuaded me to accept these three super bargain seats. He added that there were still a few available seats and, therefore, I should inform my friends of this opportunity.

I was quite friendly with Frank Harris, the editor of one of our local newspapers, the Jewish Telegraph. I revealed to him the extraordinary and astonishing news that members of Lubavitch were traveling to New York and back, with meals and transportation to the airports, for only £35. The next Friday the newspaper had a write-up about this chartered flight.

I was enjoying my breakfast on Friday morning when the phone rang; it was Mrs. Cohen. She had just read the newspaper and wanted to join the flight. After all, £17.50 was a crazy price to cross the Atlantic. She insisted upon taking advantage of this in order to see her daughter and son-in-law, whom she had last seen thirty years ago, and to meet her grandchildren whom she had never seen. By 11:30 a.m. I was still attempting to finish my breakfast, for I was kept so busy with answering the phone. I rushed to my office and found a similar state of affairs. All day long people were inquiring about the flight. “When are you leaving?” “For how long are you going?” “Put me on the list.” “Take my deposit.” And so on. The same was happening at home and Roselyn was having a hectic time preparing for Shabbos. Some enquirers even called the phone company, thinking our telephone was broken, as they had been trying to get through to our busy phone for hours!

As soon as Shabbos had begun the phones stopped - thank G‑d for Shabbos - and we enjoyed a completely quiet and peaceful Shabbos. Then it all started again! When I returned home from shul on Motzoei Shabbos, I found a dozen people waiting for me and the telephone was ringing off the hook. This continued on Sunday and Monday.

By Tuesday morning I had a list of 120 friends desiring to take advantage of the offer to join our group for travel to New York. I had also already received £1,000 as deposits. I telephoned the good news to Rabbi Shemtov and requested him to convey to me as soon as possible the exact details of the trip - date, times etc. - in order to notify my “customers.”

Of course I also wrote to the Rebbe with the details and to ascertain the Rebbe's reaction to us joining another organization for this flight. The Rebbe wrote to me in a postscript to a letter dated 11th of Nissan, 5721 (March 28, 1961):

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter, in which you ask my opinion about joining another organization for a chartered flight to NYK [NYC].

I presume that such a partnership would not be used by the other party for publicity purposes, and since the food etc. would be under your supervision, there does not seem anything untoward involved. On the other hand, if arrangement would entail the need to register as members in that organization, this might involve complications.

But perhaps there is a possibility to avoid common knowledge about the arrangement, since this is probably a formality which is of interest to the airline. As for dues, perhaps it can take the form of a subsidy by a single individual?

Needless to say, the best solution would be to have an independent flight. Therefore, it would be well to delay a final decision to the latest possible date, and in the meantime see how things develop.

Well, I was waiting to see “how things develop”, but one week went by, two weeks, a month, six weeks and still, Rabbi Shemtov had nothing definite about the flight details.

I was being nagged and pestered continually. The telephone never stopped ringing; but they were not friends anymore and I only received abuse and insults. Lubavitch, as well as I, was getting bad publicity and a tarnished image. The whole idea of an American trip for £35 was being ridiculed everywhere as just a publicity stunt and a bluff. I was becoming desperate, and was terribly upset with Rabbi Shemtov for putting me into this horrible situation. Meanwhile, I returned all the deposit money to the applicants and informed them that I would communicate with them as soon as I had something definite.

One day Rabbi Shemtov came to Manchester on one of his regular periodic visits. He arrived at his Lubavitch of Manchester Headquarters - my office - and I really let him know how I felt about a man who puts a friend into such a position. My reputation was such that people could usually rely on my word and, therefore, I wanted my flight!

Rabbi Shemtov blurted out the whole story. Some Satmar chassidim were anxious to visit New York and had, through a travel agent, chartered a plane for 118 people, but they did not receive the spontaneous response that they had expected, so they invited Lubavitch to join them. That was all he knew about the whole affair. This did not satisfy me, not at all. A decision had to be made. Either we had the flight to New York, or I had to apologize to the Jewish public and admit that we had been a little too ambitious.

Rabbi Shemtov suggested that I telephone the London travel agent who organized this charter to receive an update as to the status of the flight. This I duly did, and received the “latest information”: a cursory denunciation and condemnation, in the most impolite terms, of chassidim in general and Satmar chassidim in particular. The flight was called off, off, off! Mr. M. did confirm that he had a “long” list of intending passengers: six Satmars and six Lubavitchers. He was fed up with it and wiped his hands from this whole sorry and sordid affair.

When I finally managed to get in a word in the middle of his monologue, I explained with a glow of pride that he should not be so impetuous, because I had a list of over one hundred potential travelers for whom I would personally guarantee. Mr. M. would not listen to any of my arguments and entreaties. He would have none of it! He will not waste his valuable time with such fickle and unreliable individuals.