Recently I had the opportunity to take a trip to Israel to visit my son Carmi, who is studying there for the year.
What made the trip very special was flying on El Al Airlines.
A few months ago, El Al’s New England regional director and manager Paul Dell’Isola visited Touro Synagogue to discuss opportunities of flying to Israel on El Al, from Boston. Since that visit, quite a few members of Touro Synagogue have made the nonstop journey.
The trip was very special, even before we boarded the plane. It was Hanukkah, and as we were waiting to board the plane at Logan Airport, a large Hanukkah menorah was set up, as well as delicious doughnuts and bottles of water. This menorah lighting created a very festive mood at the airport and set the tone for the rest of the flight.
On the flight itself I met many interesting passengers. Sitting in my row was a distinguished neuroscientist who had attended an academic conference in Boston. Also on the plane were a group of Christian travelers who were eagerly anticipating their first trip to Israel.
The new El Al planes are beautiful, and the flight didn’t seem long at all, thanks to the help of El Al’s superb entertainment center. This flight happened to be the very last flight for our pilot who was retiring. On the plane, they told us about his many years of service to Israel, and when we landed in Israel, there was a large group of El Al personnel waiting for a planned celebration. Everyone clapped on arrival, which is common on El Al.
It was wonderful to visit with my son who I hadn’t seen since August. I am grateful to the Jewish Alliance for helping students learn more about Israel trip options and for reaching out to those who have never been to Israel before. I was also thrilled to meet several people from the Rhode Island Israel Collaborative. Before I left for Israel, Avi Nevel, the director of RIIC, helped me connect with individuals in Israel who were linked to Rhode Island. I was also honored to lecture in Israel about the history of Touro Synagogue, and the first Jews who arrived in Rhode Island, a subject that people are always interested in.
This direct flight from Boston to Israel has quickly become very popular among many world travelers, and several people that I spoke with told me that from now on, they would take this flight. We are truly fortunate in New England.
Rabbi Marc Mandel