When the plane suddenly lurched as I was standing in the aisle, it didn't seem like a good sign. "It feels like we are going down," the woman standing next to me remarked. "Yes, it does," I confirmed as I hurried back to my seat. I reached my seat just as the seatbelt lights began flashing. Moments later, oxygen masks dropped from the overhead compartment, and the pilot announced that all in-flight personnel must return to their seats and put on their masks. They raced past us shouting "Put your masks on! Now!" They were desperate to reach their own seats and secure their masks. It was unreal. In minutes, what had been an ordinary flight was transformed into a nightmare.

It feels like we are going down I tried to fasten my daughter's mask on while she slept. It was midnight, and I hoped she would just keep sleeping. She woke up and fought me off, screaming: "I don't want to." Yet there was no time to explain. I forced it on her, and pulled it tight. She clawed at it, seeking a way to remove it.

Next I put my son's mask on, and then my own. Despite what I had always been taught, I had to know that my children were safe before I could even begin to think about my own safety. Then I returned to my kids, securing their straps so tightly that they could no longer pull them off, explaining: "We have to listen to them." I begged my daughter: "Please just keep it on, and we'll be okay."

She was terrified, and so was I. Yet I was her mother, and seeing my terror would feed into hers. So I took a deep breath, and forced myself to appear calm. I lifted my mask for a second to reassure her "We'll be fine as long as we wear these masks. There is a problem with the plane and we are going to have to land now. It's scary, but we will be okay."

I snapped my mask into place and turned to survey the plane. Across the aisle, my husband was reciting psalms. I added my own silent prayers that my words come true. Then I stretched out my hands to my children, who grasped them desperately, seeking a life-preserver.

Unbidden, the thought ran through my head. At least we are all together. Whatever happens, there won't be any orphans.

For fifteen agonizing minutes, as our plane sped towards the ground, we had no explanations. Yet none were needed. We were in danger. We were racing to the ground. We had to wear masks. My children cried and held my hands. I silently prayed, my lips moving constantly beneath my oxygen mask.

Then there was an announcement. It was safe to remove our masks. There was a problem with the plane, and we would be landing in Budapest in twenty five minutes. The stewards patrolled the aisles, checking on the passengers. They carried portable oxygen tanks with them, and still wore their masks.

"We are okay." I repeated to my children over and over. "We are landing in Budapest. We will be fine." Yet as the steward passed by, I whispered: "Are we making an emergency landing?" "No, it will be a regular landing." he reassured me. "The situation is under control."

We touched down in Budapest in the middle of the night, landing in an airfield far from the airport. A grim procession of fire-engines and emergency personal waited to greet us, the dense darkness lit up like a circus by their flickering lights. One passenger required emergency care; it must be for a panic attack, I reasoned, as we watched the Emergency Medical Technicians board the plane. Then we taxied gently to the airport, and we were finally allowed to disembark from the plane.

We were safe—this thought repeated itself We were stranded far from our home in Israel. Yet we were safe, and for the next few hours, as we sat in the airport lounge with nothing to eat and no place to sleep this thought repeated itself over and over in my mind. It didn't matter that we were tired and hungry and would spend a night in the airport while a new plane was brought to take us to our destination. We were together, and we were safe.

There was an air of camaraderie in the room. People swapped kosher food they had with them and stories; they shared how they had coped with the crisis, and when they had first become aware that something was wrong. It washed over me in waves, their words mingling with my exhaustion. I surrendered to this strange tide that had taken me out of my life, and brought me to this foreign city in the middle of the night to sit for hours surrounded by strangers.

We had tasted danger. Yet we were safe. We were exactly where we were meant to be. I felt as though our plane had been a little glass dome that had been shaken by the Hand of G‑d, and now we sat waiting for the dust to settle and a new clarity to emerge from the upheaval. I knew that my experience had not been random. It was intended that I be on that plane, and experience the terror of our emergency landing. It was equally intended that I sit here now, unfazed by the disruption of our carefully arranged travel plans, basking in the gratifying knowledge of our family's safety.

I mentally reviewed those moments that we had sat on the plane wearing our masks, silent and fearful as the plane descended into the unknown. For me, nobody else had existed in those moments besides G‑d and our family. I had not heard any screams except the screams of my children. And for them only I had forced myself to stay calm.

During that terrible descent I knew that the pilot was no longer in control of the plane. But simultaneously I understood that Somebody was, and it was to Him, our Creator, and Him alone, that I spoke during our terrifying descent.

We were connected by our terror and griefI understood that people who had seemed so different just hours before, from so many different backgrounds and cultures, had sat alongside me uttering the same prayers for safety and their family's well-being.

We were strangers, connected by our terror and our relief, and the G‑d to whom each of us turned in our moments of peril.

As we spoke about the miracle we had all experienced, it was a form of Yom Kippur, I realized. Everything else had been stripped away. Our food, and our material comforts, all contact with the outside world, and any form of mental pre-occupation. We sat as we were, unadorned and unguarded, open to the experience before us. All that existed was that room, and these strangers, the intimate community that had suddenly formed amongst us, and the pure knowledge of the blessing and gift of safety and life that we had all received.