Shmuel Eisenmann sat in the plane waiting for his turn to jump when “the magnitude” of what he was about to do hit him.
“As soon as the plane turned on, I was like, ‘I am sitting next to my grandma and we are about to jump out of the plane,” he said.
As they climbed into the sky, he said he gave his 85-year-old grandmother, Henriette Siebenberg, who as a child survived the Holocaust, high-fives and kisses.
“She's always been the cool grandmother,” said Shmuel, who lives with his family in Miami Beach. “She’s amazing.”
Wednesday’s jump, coordinated through the Miami Sky Diving Center based at the Miami Executive Airport in Southwest Miami-Dade, was Shmuel’s 18th birthday present.
He got the idea after his older brother Tzvi did the same thing for his 18th birthday last year. That was the first time Siebenberg jumped out of a plane.
“It’s kind of a tradition,” he said.
Marc Eisenmann, Shmuel’s father, said his mother-in-law agreed to jump last year with his oldest son because they needed one person on the plane. Shmuel is the second oldest of seven children.
“She said, ‘Why not?’ ” he said. “As my kids come of age, my awesome sexy mother-in-law jumps out a plane with them.”
Siebenberg, who was born in France, survived the Holocaust as a 9-year-old, hidden by a Catholic farmer and his wife in the outskirts of Paris. She lost her father during the Holocaust, but was reunited with her mother.
She came to Miami Beach in 1961 to see a relative and met her husband, Harry, who died in 1992. They had three children, including Shmuel’s mother Astrid.
Jumping from a plane was never something she thought she’d do, but when her first grandson asked her she jumped at the chance.
“I wasn’t scared,” she said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t go.”
She said she couldn’t say no to Shmuel.
“It’s what he wanted for his birthday, so I went along,” she said.
Shmuel said it was an experience he will never forget.
“I hope that one day, when I have grandkids, please God, I will jump out of a plane with them.”