Historic Torah Returns to Europe - United Hub
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Historic Torah returns to Europe

By The Hub team, October 18, 2017

We connected the past and the future, and two Jewish congregations 6,000 miles apart, by helping a rabbi and a cantor from the San Francisco Bay Area transport a 200-year-old Torah scroll, a refugee from the Holocaust, back to its home temple in the Czech Republic on October 17.

The Torah has been at the Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, just south of San Francisco International Airport, since 1970. It came from a synagogue from a village called Olomouc in the Czech Republic. Before and during World War II, Torahs and other artifacts were routinely confiscated or destroyed by the occupying Nazis, but this Torah and hundreds of others were hidden or taken out of Nazi territory for safekeeping.

The rabbi with the Torah scroll in the gate area of the airport.

The Olomouc Torah arrived in Foster City in 1970s, and as the Jewish community in Olomouc grew again, they reached out to the California congregation.

"They asked us if we could help restore this scroll to kosher status and bring it back to its home," said Rabbi Corey Helfand of the Peninsula Sinai Congregation. Corey was accompanied on his flight to Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday by Cantor Doron Shapira, who has a personal connection with the scrolls. His in-laws were among the Jews who escaped Olomouc, and they previously worshipped at the Olomouc synagogue.

The Peninsula Sinai Congregation has nearly completed restoring the Torah over the past several years – the final work will be done in Olomouc, and the scroll returned to its home synagogue during ceremonies planned for later this month.

Michael Hayat, an IT Senior Manager based in San Francisco, is a member of the Foster City congregation and worked with San Francisco Airport and United representatives to make sure the Torah would receive special handling on the United leg of the journey to Frankfurt, before heading to its final destination in Prague.

The Torah scroll with United staff, the rabbi and the cantor on the flight to Frankfurt

Our Customer Service staff provided early boarding and a secure spot for the special carry-on, as well as arranged for the rabbi and cantor to have an empty seat between them, which was assigned to the Torah. It even got its own boarding pass. During the flight, the pilots and flight attendants checked on them regularly to make sure they had a comfortable flight. We worked with the TSA to make sure the scroll could get through security with no issues, and with Lufthansa, to ensure a smooth connection in Frankfurt.

"I am overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude for how everyone came together to make this a special flight for them," Michael said. "The United family came together and exceeded all our expectations."

The ABC-TV affiliate in San Francisco covered the event; watch their coverage here.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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