Airplane encounter between Noa Kirel and a top rabbi goes viral

A selfie taken on a flight to Tel Aviv has gone viral this week, serving as a symbol of unity in an increasingly divided Israel

The photo was taken by Noa Kirel, the pop star representing Israel who came in third in this year’s Eurovision competition over the weekend, who was headed home from the competition, which took place in Liverpool, England.

Next to her in the frame, and on the plane, was Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, the head rabbi of Gush Etzion, a bloc of West Bank settlements south of Jerusalem.

Rimon was initially puzzled when a message on the plane’s TV screens read, “Well done, Noa. We’re proud of you,” he shared in a message initially sent to a family WhatsApp group. After he asked Kirel why congratulations were in order, and to whom, he said she explained her Eurovision appearance, surprised he didn’t recognize her.

Rimon added that she said she had prayed at the contest and refrained from using her phone on Shabbat. Rimon offered himself as a rabbinic resource and Kirel took his information, sending him their picture as a first communication.

That picture exited the family chat after a friend of one of Rimon’s daughters saw it, photographed it and shared it, Rimon later wrote in another WhatsApp message that has gone viral.

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