Did El Al Invent Charedi Violence To Shift The Blame Away From The Airline’s Mistakes? A Timeline And The ATC Audio Where El Al Receives Permission To Return To The Gate!

El Al 747s in Goose Bay, January 2018
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Read this first: The Captain Of El Al’s Flight #002 Lied To And Tricked His Own Passengers; It’s Time To Realize The Risks Of Taking These Flights

Nothing went right for El Al on Thursday.

Their crew was several hours late to the airport for flight #002.

The flight was operated by aircraft 4X-ELB, the same 747 that declared a mayday and had an emergency landing in Goose Bay earlier this year. You can listen to the ATC audio of that mayday here.

After boarding the plane 2 hours late and then waiting on the tarmac for 3 hours, the captain told passengers demanding to get off that they would return to the gate for those who wanted to deplane to do so. Then the plane proceeded to take off after everyone sat down, despite knowing that they would not be able to make it to Israel before Shabbos, which would require a diversion.

The pilot flamed onboard tensions by blaming the diversion on religious passengers, but in fact El Al’s own company policy required the diversion as they can’t bring passengers to Israel on Shabbos.

Flight #008 also departed too late from JFK to make it to Tel Aviv and was supposed to divert to Rome, however it flew to Israel on Shabbos due to a medical situation.

The Jerusalem Post notes that El Al claimed that “a group of haredim” requested to get off the plane and “exercised heavy and violent pressure against the cabin crew” in seeking to disembark, and alleged that this caused further delays in taking off.

This is a farce. El Al got them to sit down by lying to them about returning them to the terminal and then taking off shortly afterward.

El Al said they would press chargers against the violent offenders, but they have yet to file a complaint against anyone. That’s not surprising given that hundreds of other passengers say that there was zero violence on the flight.

There are videos of this scene at the end of this post.

Reporters onboard confirmed that there was no violence, but El Al was spouting lie after lie.

So what’s the story El Al? If this violence actually happened, then where is the police report for violence? Why would you let the offenders off the plane without going to the police? Why would you fly the offender home to Tel Aviv the next night?

I’d posit that El Al went with this story as it shifted the story away from their inexcusable behavior.

And it worked. Everyone from bloggers with headlines screaming El Al Flight Diverts Over Shabbat Violence (this was later corrected to a more accurate headline) to mainstream media and even Drudge loves a good story about violent religious passengers:



An El Al operations officer went on Israeli radio making the claim that passengers were trying to break into the cockpit on the flight. A passenger called in that he was sitting in row 72 upstairs and that was not true. The El Al operations officer said that their cockpit is on the lower level of the 747! Hate to break it to El Al, but the cockpit is always upstairs on the Queen of the Skies…

El Al also claimed that they only realized after taking off that they would not make it to Israel before Shabbos. Unless they found a way to make their 747s fly above the speed of sound, there was no way that they would make it to Israel before Shabbos. The plane was going to be diverted from the moment it took off.

El Al refused to say to the Post why passengers were lied to and not let off the plane in JFK. They also declined to say why their crew was late.

I’ve been trying to piece together the timeline.

We know that the flight was supposed to depart at 6:30pm, but didn’t board until 8:30pm due to the El Al crew getting stuck in traffic on the way to JFK.

I spoke to Ben Chafetz, a business class passenger on flight #002. He was one of the passengers asking to go back to the terminal, but there was no violence.

This scene happened at 11:14pm. There were requests from El Al to turn off the camera:


He and 40-50 other passengers sat down after El Al promised to go back to the terminal.

At 11:31pm Ben Chafetz sent this voice note to his brother that the pilot had said the flight would be cancelled and would return to the gate, but that it looked like the pilot was turning away from the terminal and proceeding to takeoff. Ben says that he thinks this was about 4 or 5 minutes after the pilot promised to return to the terminal.

At 11:38pm he shared his suspicion that the pilot was pulling a fast one on them and would break his promise.

He shares his Whatsapp timeline and voice notes with his reaction to what was happening:






Below is the ATC audio starting at 11:23pm. Scroll down to listen to it.

At first the pilot requests permission to return to the gate and is granted it. However at 11:26pm he asks to hold there for a minute or 2 as there were issues with the passengers.

According to Ben, this is about when the pilot then promised passengers to return to the terminal if they sat down.

Unfortunately while dozens of passengers heard this promise, I have yet to actually hear any audio of it. That means we don’t know the exact time that this happened. If you do have any audio or know what time this promise happened, please post a comment.

At 11:27pm the pilot requested permission to depart as soon as possible due to “passengers making problems.”

The air traffic controller appears to be surprised by this statement. Normally when an airplane is having problematic (or violent, eh El Al?) passengers, they deboard them immediately so that things don’t escalate in-flight. The last thing they would want to do is take off with problematic passengers. This is the opposite of standard operating procedure.

Take a listen to the ATC audio of the pilot talking to the tower and read through the transcript below to follow along.

Below is a transcript of the ATC audio provided by LiveATC.net and Chaikel. The references to “Golf, Hotel, Alpha” etc. are references to ground locations on the taxiways. Kind of like street signs and intersections.

Elal (11:23pm): Ground, good evening. Elal 002 on Golf short of Alpha. We have to return to the gate. We’d appreciate, ehh, to Alpha to Hotel Bravo.
JFK Ground: Alright Elal 002 heavy, and you’re coming out of Golf
Elal: Coming out of Golf, and we request Alpha and we are… approximate, we are eh…
Ground: And you’re going to Hotel Bravo, right?
Elal: Yes I am
Ground: OK, Elal 002 heavy, you can taxi right Alpha
Elal: Right Alpha, and hold short Hotel Bravo, 008 (Apparently saying the flight number of the other troubled El Al flight that evening before correcting himself,)… 002

Elal (11:26pm): Will we be able to continue to the takeoff runway we have problems with some passengers. We will get an update in like 1 minute or 2 minutes. If it’s possible to wait here and then we’ll let you know if know if we can continue to the takeoff, or back to the gate
JFK Ground: Alright Elal 002 heavy just hold short of Hotel then please
Elal: Hold short of Hotel, Elal 002 heavy
JFK Ground: And as soon as you know just update me please
Elal: Thank you very much sir, I appreciate it

JFK Ground (11:27pm): Just hold your position right there for now, and I’ll have further for you
Elal: Holding position, Elal 002
Elal: Elal 002 we’d appreciate to depart as soon as possible, otherwise the passengers will continue making problems
JFK Ground: Uh ok Elal 002 heavy, you can continue on Alpha, just hold short of Hotel Bravo, change to ground on 121.65, she’s gonna get you the rest of the way.
Elal: 121.65 continue on Alpha, hold short Hotel Bravo Elal 002

Elal (11:29pm): Elal 002 short of Hotel Alpha
JFK Ground: Elal 002 hold short of Juliet
Elal: Hold short of Juliet, Elal 002

JFK Ground (11:30pm): Elal 002 departure frequency when it’s time is 125.7
Elal: 125.7 Elal 008 (Saying the wrong flight number for the 2nd time before correcting)…002
JFK Ground: Elal 002 you’ll follow Air France cross runway 31 left, and tower is 123.9

Kennedy Tower (11:42pm): Elal 002 heavy Kennedy Tower, caution wake turbulence, runway 04 Left. Line up and wait. Altimeter 2976
Elal: 2976, 04 Left, line up and wait, Elal 002

Kennedy Tower (11:44pm): Elal 002 heavy, caution wake turbulence winds 080 at 23, gust 38. Runway 04 Left. Cleared for takeoff
Elal: 04 Left Cleared for takeoff, Elal 002

Elal (11:46pm): NY Departure, good evening, Elal 002 out of 1,700 of heading 100
NY Departure: Elal 002 NY departure radar contact. Climb and maintain 11,000
Elal: Climb and maintain 11,000, Elal 002

The plane was taxiing between 11:27pm-11:45pm and passengers didn’t stand up again due to the movement of the plane. Many passengers were shocked when the plane went airborne as the last announcement from the pilot was that they were returning to the gate.

So, what happened between 11:23pm when the pilot requested permission to return to the gate and told passengers that they would be able to deboard and 11:26pm when the pilot requested to hold for a minute and 11:27pm when the pilot requested permission for immediate takeoff?

Did the pilot have a change of heart and just want to be home for the weekend? After all, he got to fly the 747 home empty of passengers after landing in Athens.

Or did the orders come from corporate even if it meant having to divert the plane? That way El Al could operate the return flight early Sunday morning from Tel Aviv to JFK using that same 747 aircraft.

If that was the case it was surely a business decision, which is their right. But it’s a decision that will cost them more than the value of a cancelled flight in the long-run, especially considering the lies that were required to make it happen.

Throughout the flight, the pilot refused to explain why he promised to return passengers to the terminal before taking off. Why didn’t he ever come clean? This mystery is unsolved for now, though I’d love to hear your theories!

HT: Ben Chafetz and Chaikel

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111 Comments On "Did El Al Invent Charedi Violence To Shift The Blame Away From The Airline’s Mistakes? A Timeline And The ATC Audio Where El Al Receives Permission To Return To The Gate!"

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Dis gon be gud!

ari k

“But it’s a decision that will cost them more than the value of a cancelled flight in the long-run”
how right you are with that statement
EL-AL doesnt realize what this episode has put in motion …

Anonymous Anonymous

How’s that? What’s it going to cost them?


The interesting part is that wealthy philanthropist in NY has deposited a huge sum of money into an escrow account that is there specifically for this purpose. Many years ago there was a similar situation and this gvir put up the money so that If El Al ever was in a situation where they would lose money by accommodating Shabbos observers, they could accommodate the passengers and recoup the losses from this account. You can search the details on Theyeshivaworld.com.


the story is true but there is to many details involved for the standard person in the world to take the time and understand how this was elals fault, so it probably wont cause any bad pr for them anyway the details of what occurred are not straightforward like what happen to dr dao , they dragged him off the plane by force after he reused his seat period. no other details or elaborations. this is a long gantze maaaseh that no avg citizen will take the time to read and digest and then channel that toward elal.


What seems important here is not so much to find blame, which probably goes all around, but for those who strictly observe the Sabbath to be prudent about taking into consideration that things that are out of their control can go wrong and factor that into choosing a given day and time of departure to be more certain of not being caught as were these passengers. However, for me, the bigger issue is that the great majority of Israeli Jews are secular or don’t follow Orthodox practice, so what needs to change is that Israel rescinds control of religious practice from the Orthodox minority and allows true freedom of religion, including the recognition of the validity of Reform and Conservative Jewish theology and practice. Whenever I read stories like this, I make a contribution to Women of the Wall ( https://www.womenofthewall.org.il/mission/ ).


Certainly it would have been prudent for those who observe the Sabbath to have made a different choice, but according to the flight that they booked they should have made it in enough fine. Regardless, you’re just completely glossing over the fact that the pilot lied to the passengers. Also, what do you mean that the blame goes all around. How are the Sabbath observant passenger is to blame for the fact that ElAl lied to their passengers? How are they to blame for the fact that the other passengers had to be diverted as well from their original destination? All the other passengers were made to believe that the Sabbath observant passengers are the ones to blame for their diversion.

As far as I know, there is no form of Judaism, not Orthodox, conservative or reform, that considers lying acceptable practice.

Those who choose to practice Orthodox Judaism were not giving the freedom to be allowed to deplane and keep the Sabbath without the hardship of having to scramble to find accommodations in a strange country.

By the way, a tremendous kudos goes to those Orthodox Jews who scrambled at the last minute to make accommodations for all of those fellow sisters and brothers who are stranded.

joe bloggs

lol so your answer is to delegitamise an entire section of the Jewish community on which the entire religion and people is based. like it or not Israel is a officially a Jewish country which at least in theory is supposed to observe the Jewish Sabbath which is why everyone works on Sunday. so it’s flights aren’t supposed to be in motion on Sabbath. why is that so shocking? why do you have a problem with that? if you have a problem with this fly one of the myriad of alternative airlines.


As you believe in majority ruling. Majority of Israelis although not religious are not reform and want the kosel to be respected according to orthodox values.


It seems like mixed seating at the western wall is never far away from your mind. The western wall is a religious issue, this is a commercial one – limited relevance. I will say that I don’t believe your assumption that most Israelis would prefer mixed seating at the wall to be correct

Moshe C

Elal knows they’re like your local grocery, however much you hate it, and decide you’re done and only going to the neighboring makolet, push comes to shove, you’re still going to patronize them.

What may have done them in for a longer time then expected is the going to the press about the chareidim.

But alas, in 10 months before sukkos no one will remember.

Are we our own worst enemy, by flying w them especially on Thursdays?!


I believe the main reason why el al 002 did take off instead or returning to gate is due the the heavy fine that us FAA apply to airline per passenger due to delay on tarmac and take off

Funny that no one mentions that.


Agreed, this becomes fairly one sided. ElAl didn’t behave properly with their words, however, as a frum yid, I find people who put themselves in this situation are being inconsiderate, unrealistic and when situations like this occur, they create a chilul hashem give the abnormal disdain towards the frum world.

Chabadnick’s are going to be tone deaf to this concept, but when you work in the real world (secular jews, non jews, etc) you recognize that sometimes we make unforced errors and it’s a chilul hashem.


What does “Chabadnik” have to do with this??? They saved the day!


Targeted at Dan in this situation because he’s being overly dramatic here (he was last overly dramatic in my opinion when it came to those 3 under age 18 people who were stranded internationally and failed to use the best judgement given their goal of saving money). The generality – if you want to come to my NYC office, you’ll notice the mitzvah tank around regularly and it draws the evil eye from more people than those who put on Tefillin for the first time in 43 years.

Liam K. Nuj

Really? You take time off from whatever you do to divine that not only are there people giving the “evil eye” towards the Mitzvah Tanks, but there are MORE evil eye givers than those putting on who put on Tefillin for the first time in 43 years?
Well, if the “43 years” is to be taken literally, then you may be right.
But more likely, you’re projecting your own biases and animosity toward religious Jews that love you more than you can ever despise them.


So a Jew connecting to God causes an evil eye but a Jew blaming his messup on his passengers and their religious beliefs doesn’t?!

The fact that the only Jewish airline treats its jewish passengers worse than the non jewish airlines probably causes way more evil eyes, especially from other religious people who hate to see people being smeared on the basis of their religion.

Btw How would u know about what most people think about the tanks?! Did u make a survey?!


I get an earful of it from my well meaning yet often insensitive colleagues – welcome to the world folks, you can say what you want about my comment, but my observation is not mine alone, unfortunately.


Spoken like a true Liberal
Instead of being proud that a Jew that may have never put on
Tfilin in his life and now gets a chance to do so b/c of the “tank” you are ashamed/Embarrassed of it ????
like i said Spoken like a true liberal


They didn’t put themselves into this situation, elal did. Not sure what this has got to to with “chabadnik’s”.


Haha! funny how you target chabadniks when they’re the most out there in the world more than any other frum person can dream of


Throughout this discussion it has been repeated numerous times that it is not a good decision to fly on Thursday. Nobody supported that idea. Calling names, and pointing fingers at one particular group just causes divisiveness. Our goal is Unity. Let’s remember that. The Nazis did. The terrorists and haters don’t differentiate. We are all His children let’s try to remember and act like brothers and sisters


Yes please, we need to join to together as one and not fight between ourselves. That is how the nazis were able to do what they did. If u think the world doesn’t hate us already, no matter whether u r reform, conservative etc. than u r sadly mistaken.

There should have been no lies told n promises kept. In the future maybe people just want to be conscious of the day they choose to fly.



Love your blog and respect your opinion but think this is getting over dramatized. I am
Not an observant Jew but if I was I would not take any flight that would have a chance to interfere with Shabbat.

Maybe there should be two el als. One for religious and one for everyone else. Religious one can have separate sections for men and women and only fly Sunday through Wednesday and no chagim.

Living in Miami El Al has a non stop to Tel Aviv. Unfortunately from my experience there are some religious Jews that make it unpleasant to fly El Al. I prefer to fly anyone but El Al even if it means having to do a stop over.


Which one would be for the lyin pilots? no one is arguing that jews should take that flight, but to throw the blame on them and lying through their teeth is a grave concern


BTW religious Jews also fly united, you did hear flights delayed because of chariady violence, Just Saying


That is why I prefer to fly to and from Israel on Shabbat I don’t have to worry about it.
And on United a woman will not be forced to move seats if she is sitting next to a religious person.

I respect if you are observant just don’t try to force it on everyone else.

I don’t agree with the pilots actions but I’m sure there is more to the story.

The solution is that since El Al is a religious airline then they shouldn’t have flights that leave leave after Wednesday night from the US. El Al should fly Saturday night through Wednesday night that’s it. Let’s throw up a mechitza on the plane and good to go. Front of the plane for the men and the back for the women. (Lol)


Segregating the plane to men in front and women in back is morally wrong and likely illegal. How about left and right, with a mechitza down the middle?


Yes they did, read the last paragraph of the comment 2 levels above yours.


It is unfortunate that you don’t have the privilege to feel the unexplainable delight of observing Shabbat!


I’m not sure why Dan permits non-Shomer Shabbos to Post their chilul shabbos publicly!?!?


Clearly, LY wanted the aircraft home or close to home rather than totally out of location. They would suffer losses and loss of reputation (LOL) if they would have totally cancelled this flight and the next flight to be operated by this equipment.

They have to do these things in order to exist, all aircraft, all fuel expenses and even crew salaries are about the same all over the world. It is therefor much harder to exist as an airline with Shabbat and Chag hampering your schedule.
Their plan was to get the aircraft home even if they had to accommodate passengers in Athens as done previously.
The sad part of this is that so many people award other airlines with our business making it that much harder for LY to exist on a 5.5 day workweek.
By the way, the anti Jew attitude I recently experienced on a carrier trans-atlantic, enroute to TLV was horrible. It was a * carrier that flies wide body flights to TLV. my experience was in C.
None of this excuses lying to passengers but there are many calculations that go into decisions and it is not always simple.


It’s not just El Al. I had an American Airlines flight from Oakland to Newark Thursday night with a short stopover in Dallas. The incoming flight was delayed causing my flight to be delayed which would cause me to miss my connecting flight. They refused to book me on the next 2 flights and said they could put me on standby for a 12 pm flight Friday afternoon. Finally they magically found me a flight after 25 minutes of a harassment straight from San fransisco to jfk 7:40 am with an arrival in NY 4:45 and sunset was at 8. When it was time to board the flight jfk shut down all incoming flights and the pushed the flight to 10:15. They then put the flight back to 8:10 an only half hour delay. Before boarding I made sure to ask a stewardess to verify that the plane will take off as scheduled and not sit on the runway. The stewardess assisted me that they had to takeoff at the time of scheduled departure and the flight would not be delayed any further. The plane took off with no problems. Hours into the trip when the plane was near Chicago the pilot announced that jfk was holding all incoming flight. The stewardess said it will only be a half hour delay. A half hour later the pilot announced the plane was low on fuel and the plane would have to land at O’Hare to refuel. The plane landed in O’hare at 3:40 and I was told it would take off at 3:50. At this point I asked to be allowed to get off the plane. The pilot said if anyone got off the plane everyone on the plane would have to get off. I spoke to a rabbi who said if the plane took off when it was supposed to then I should stay on. When it was time to take off there was a plane blocking us from behind. After that delay we were taxing on the runway for at least 25 minutes. We took off 5:30 NY time and they said wheels would be on the ground at 7. When we finally landed in JFK we waited 20 min on the runway and when got to the gate there was a plane there. I finally got off the plane at 7:46 pm. I had a driver waiting who took my stuff and I ended walking most of the way home. So as you see it’s not only El Al who lie to the passnegers. Had the American crew not lied about how long the stop in O’hare would be I would have forced them to let me off the plane in Chicago. They also lied abought having everyone deplane since they did not want to deal with me getting off the plane.


Why would you believe flight attendants, or pilots? Air traffic control is out of their hands.


So say you don’t know, don’t lie. What kind of excuse is that. I didn’t want to make a scene in Chicago for no reason.


So say you don’t know , don’t lie. I wasn’t going to cause a scene for no reason


well they didn’t tell you a lie it was not in their hands
elal told them that they are returning to gate and he just took off SHAME!!!


How is not a lie when they told me that everyone would have to deplane if They were to let me off the plane in Chicago?


Lansky, the big difference between you and several people on this ElAl flight was that you took accountability. It’s commendable that you accepted any risk, blame, or consequences. You kept to your word and actually walked home. You didn’t rely on the generosity and righteousness of a chabad, or meals and a hotel waiting for you. I saw commented on another website saying that people cant keep rolling the dice of shabbos to find the ‘worst comes the worst’ chabad will take care of us with 5 minutes till sunset. It’s silly to hear some say that was the best shabbos, most inspirational shabbos, a shabbos to teach their children— which is all over dramatic. In my opinion, use common sense and wise decisions to prevent an “Athens Situation” altogether, and THAT should be taught to children.


Please just stop doing this and than blame the entire world, stop going on a flight that is scheduled to arive Friday, the fact that it keeps happening just answers your claim that there is nothing wrong if its schedule for early AM. There are way to many things that can come up that you have no control. It’s it’s insane how most guys don’t see the hypocrisy here, you are asking to delay an entire aircraft full of passengers when you put yourself in this mess.


No one is right in this situation.

Anyone in the NYC area who had to deal with the weather and historically bad traffic situation Thursday evening could’ve told you:
1) The flight should’ve before the flight attendants ever left for the airport – the fact they only got there 2 hours late is a small miracle.
2) If LY wasn’t going to cancel, any Jew for whom Shabbas observance is a priority should’ve never even bothered leaving for the airport, as there was practically 0 chance the flight wouldn’t be cancelled or heavily delayed (this is beyond the caution they should’ve already had flying any Thursday evening).

El Al certainly deserves blame, but lets not pretend that those who voluntarily chose to board that flight in the first place exhibited much seichel

Frankly, it’s stunning the the NYC area airports didn’t shut down altogether considering the complete chaos on the roads Thursday night.


Was the only violence in the cockpit? Co-Pilot communicating with Tower, Pilot making his own decision?

Does the Hebrew word for “violence” also translate to lesser offenses? Did any member of the crew use that word, or just someone in the El Al bureaucracy?

I can remember when PanAm had problems serving fish on Friday flights, so they got a dispensation from the Pope. The problem with Judaism: There’s no Pope. Can’t the Talmudic scholars just agree that for airplanes in flight, sundown takes place at the last place they left ground?


Im surprised no one opened up the emergency exit, that would of stopped the plane from taking off

Jack out of the box

Nobody was looking for violence. They were trying to use diplomatic process.


That would have been violence….

From LA

Dan, are you saying you avoid El Al altogether? What airline do you fly to Israel?

Freakin flyer

I regularly fly a few times a month and I fly NYC-TLV a good few times a year

1) I avoid flying ElAl as their hard and soft products are almost third world country, they have no concept of customer service, and their flights are delayed on a regular basis,

2) I NEVER EVER take a international flight on Thursday, especially in the winter when the weather is unpredictable, any small hiccup in the weather will cause backups and delays

3) I try to fly out of Newark as much as possible as LGA and JFK for some reason generally are delayed a lot more in bad weather than Newark

I fly now mostly with United and I am very happy with their soft and hard product, most of the time they run on time and there is somebody to talk to if something goes wrong

In this case with Elal 002, I bet you the pilot checked with the company and they told him not to cancel the flight and to take off, these decisions are mostly made by the company and not the captain, the flight attendants cried because they felt helpless as it was not up to them and they were getting all the heat


I believe there might have been some bad weather in New York on that Thursday. Can anyone confirm if there was bad weather.. highways were clogged for hours


So what, everyone knew about that and should plan accordingly. 400 passengers were on time!


@ Dre I had a meeting in midtown Thursday afternoon. After I was going to Oceanside. The weather report for several days was snow ( on the Island an inch or two) changing to rain. That was the forecast for JFK. I reached the Midtown tunnel at almost exactly the same time it is said the crew left. I don’t know if they were closer to the airport. Even though Waze said 30 minutes that was hours late for the crew. There was no percipitation. When I got out of the tunnel it was snowing. Traffic was slow but moving. It took 90 minutes to get home.

That’s the exact time and route the crew took. They left way too late especially with the forecast.


We also need to stop making matter-of-fact statements like “el al will be hurt by this” without any hard evidence that it happened/is happening.

People were saying the same thing after the Goose Bay incident and yet…. here we are, with roughly 150 frum people flying LY right before one of the earliest shabbases of the year.


This is the reason I never fly ELAL, I only use a service of a company that respects me as a customer.

henny rattner

This entire situation was an abomination. In this day and age nothing is a secret. When you lie it bites you in the but because all is out there for all to see. Shame on all who lied. You are an embarrassment.


From my understanding the violence was on the other flight that landed in tlv in shabbos. There are facebook reports of people on that flight which chareidim did use violance.


There were no chareidim on that flight, any that were originally booked on 008 changed to 002 in the airport.


Dan – could El Al have flown an empty plane back to Israel on Friday so that it could fly the plane back to NY on Saturday night?


Yes, but they would have to refund/rebook all the passengers.

David Moskowitz

They did fly the plane from Athens the TLV on Shabbos, so technically yes.
Honestly, it would’ve costed them less in the long run if they did that this way.

But I will not decide how ElAl should violate Shabbos. Let them do their own Avairos!


Jack out of the box

Strictly forbidden but they did it anyway.


Dan is right. It’s the pilots fault and the airports fault and the mayors fault and the governors fsult(and several others of course) but not the chareidim who got onto the flight even tho it had little to no chance of landing b4 shabbos. Anything for a good opportunity to make a fuss and then look like a heilige yid


Dan never said it’s anyone’s fault, he did say the captain lied, ELAL probably fabricated the story (based on passenger reports) and lastly. he doesn’t, and he advises against flying these Thursday flights if you care about shabbos. Why is that so difficult to comprehend?


For all of you who are blaming Shabbat observers… ElAl’s policy is not to fly the plane in TLV on Shabbat. That has absolutely nothing to do with who exactly is on the plane and what their preference is. The secular passengers would have to de-plane in Athens either way. Not sure why you are all making a commotion about them specifically. It’s the lie after lie that is totally demanding ElAl to take responsibility for their actions.


If El-Al cared about their passengers as much as these Chareidim cared about shabbos, it would be a great airline.


I have to agree with Dan. I was involved with United at the end of the Summer on those 2 horrific delays of 11 hours one way and 22 hours coming back to Newark. The crew follows their rules, the airline lies and tries to placate, but fortunately neither flight was on a Friday. We pocketed the compensation and had stories to tell. But the crew that refused to fly had to be taken off the plane with guards.

Getting back to this flight, true one should not fly Fridays due to the unreliability of these airlines. However, there is an expectation of honesty and decency that neither El Al nor United has at this time. It might be Moser to complain to the FAA about what they did, but it would definitely be worthwhile to complain to Israel’s version of the FAA.


I fly fairly often and based on this thread I will be aiming for United status as opposed to flying elal going forward. I was Platinum with elal until recently, now gold…

It’s true that elal has the most flights being the hometown airline (I live in Israel), essentially it seems that other airlines respect our religious beliefs more than our own airline…

United here I come!


Nothing new here. El Al lost me a long time ago, but episodes like this definitely help assuage any guilt I might feel about giving my business to other airlines. This is a very disheartening story and my trust in El Al has been completely shattered as a result.


I agree. I already avoid ElAl but I’ll no longer feel guilty about it. I’ve been asked to change seats almost every flight and the atmosphere is always, always, a balagan. Love Air Canada, very civilized, but Delta will suit me for my next trip. I would have had a panic attack had I been on this described flight. An obvious lie with consequences to passengers? Unbelievable.

Deal Guy

I don’t understand why Elal 002 diverted to Athens?
If you looked at flightaware that night and were tracking the flight, you were able to see that flight was scheduled to land at 4:00-4:10pm in TLV, and the pilot was at times flying in excess of 700mph.
I was surprised to wake up the next morning and see that it diverted to Athens.
Flight 008 on the other hand was obvious that they weren’t gonna make it.


I don’t understand why people bichlal still insist on flying only ElAl. What’s the benefit? Price? For sure not. Service? Lol. Security? In today’s post 9/11, there is absolutely no difference from any American airline companies. Dumb people have been brainwashed to think that only if they take ElAl to Israel will they arrive alive. Any other airline will either be highjacked or crash. Everyone will die. Yes, it’s worth getting ripped off and treated like trash, because that’s what my parents and grandparents did. How can you reason with such infantile logic? It’s the same immature logic of certain people who still vote blindly for whomever the Democrat is. Well after all, when my Zaideh escaped Europe during WW2 they were told to vote Democrat because only the Democrat’s would save Yidden from the holocaust. Aha, I see. How did that work out? Roosevelt was mamesh a tzaddik who loved Jews, right? My point being, Don’t be an idiot and fly ElAl. Grow up already.

john does

From a fellow passenger. EL-AL SPONSORED SHABBOS OF UNITY

This Shabbos I had the tremendous privilege to be a part of something amazing, beautiful and enlightening. I am hoping El Al will see this and understand that there is a much better headline than the false headline “Haredim Riot On Plane” which I currently see online.
Here is the short of it. Our El Al flight was supposed to leave at 6:30pm. 3 members of the crew were late and we started boarding at 8:30pm during which the crew members arrived. At 9:10pm the flight doors were closed and everything was calm for about an hour.
At around 10pm many of the passengers who were concerned about Shabbos starting asking the crew members for detail about departure and no answers were given other than we are leaving in 5 minutes. Keep in mind, that at 10:25pm sitting on a JFK runway, El-AL’s website showed our flight as enroute having departed at 9:30PM.
I was sitting in business class, my seat was directly next to the stairs going to second floor, and 3 rows behind the first class food prep galley. I heard every exchange. At no time was there any physical threat presented by passengers concerned about Shabbos. I am loathe to use the term Chareidim, this was not some Neturei Karta protest full of black clad chasidim spewing nonsense. These were Jews from all walks of life and varied backgrounds who were concerned about Shabbos.
At 11:35pm there were about 40 passengers, myself included, who stood by the exit door and expressed our wishes to disembark from the plane. By this time we were sitting on the tarmac for two and half hours. One of the stewardesses told us that if they take us back to the gate and we get off the plane we would lose our tickets and not be rebooked. I am not sure if she was trying to shock us into sitting or if this was the real policy, but our response was unanimous;. every single person said that’s fine, we are ok with that, just take us back to the gate so we don’t violate Shabbos. Not one person said, “What?? No,you have to rebook us”, or, “you can’t do that”, there was a simple, basic understanding, we had Shabbos.
At one point, someone whom I later found out to be Rabbi Shalom Ber Sorotzkin got on the intercom and said that he spoke to the pilot, and that the pilot guaranteed we would get to the airport before Shabbos, and that he (Rabbi Sorotzkin) arranged for everyone to have a place and a meal for Shabbos if they did not have time get to where they needed since we would arrive only one hour before Shabbos.

Many of us, myself included did not sit down and expressed our desire to go back the gate.
At that point the captain came onto the intercom. He told us we were going to go back to the gate as soon as everyone was seated. And we all went back to our seats.
I can’t begin to describe the sinking feeling in my stomach as I saw the plane turn away from the terminals and face the runway. In less than 6 minutes after telling us to return to our seats to go back to the gate, we were in the air. FY I- there was no Wifi on the flight which meant our only source of information for the rest of the flight was the El-Al crew.
Four hours into the flight the Captain announced that because of the “Cheiredim” the plane would stop in Athens. At which point, all the people who want to get off for Shabbos can get off the plane first, and then, (and here is the kicker), all the people who want to continue to Israel will also have to get off the plane and go on a different plane from IsraAir to go to Israel.
What a shame… I wish El Al had announced the truth. We were stopping in Athens because El-Al made a series of bad calls, and once they landed they could not depart on Shabbos which is why they needed an non El-Al plane to continue to Israel on Shabbos.
This only caused the internal tension to rise and as our only source of information was the crew, who were less than helpful and not at all sympathetic . To be very clear, no one was angry at the stewardesses, everyone understood that they did not make the decisions. We were requesting to speak to the pilot or someone who can speak for the pilot. Again, there was no attempts to break into the cockpit, there were no physical altercations. Yes, there were some raised voices, but most of the time (I have the videos showing) it was secular Israeli passengers who came to yell at the passengers who were concerned about Shabbos that we were ruining their weekend.

This in itself was absurd because we did not make the decision to stop in Athens and the majority of the religious passengers preferred that we continue to Israel and be stuck in the Tel Aviv airport.
As the minutes crept closer to our arrival into Athens there were discussions on the plane about whether it was halachically better to stay on the plane or to disembark in Athens. We had no clue what to expect. Would we stay in the airport? Was there a hotel? What would we eat?
When they served breakfast I realized that the packaged egg which they served for breakfast and the half a sandwich I had left from when I boarded the plane could very well be all we had to eat on Shabbos. I even put some nuts into my backpack for Shalosh Seudos.
When it was clear that we were landing in Athens and we would begin our descent we returned to our seats. Many of us tried to separate our Muktza items and to make sure our Tallis and Siddur were easily accessible.
After the plane landed and we stopped we disembarked on one of those rollaway staircases to get onto one of several shuttles. I was one of the first people onto the shuttle and I watched as dozens of more Yidden came off the plane with no other thought than, to stay on the plane would be chillul Shabbos, and getting off the plane was the best chance of keeping Shabbos. Chasidim got off the plane, men with black hats, colored shirts, in t-shirts, in suits, women with sheitels, snoods, no sheitels, in skirts, in pants; everyone coming off the plane was united in one thing – We believe in Hashem, and his Torah, and Shabbos was our gift and our inheritance and we would keep it.
As the first shuttle was full and started towards the airport (there were more shuttles behind us) everyone broke into a song for Shabbos Kodesh.
Once we got to the airport we were met by a women from El Al who was very sweet and took the time to explain to us that we were would be staying across the street (literally) at a hotel and they would take us as soon as the other shuttles arrive.
As they led us into the hotel it was very chaotic. There were four hotel clerks and people started surging towards the front desk. At that point, one Rabbi, whom I later learned was Rabbi Akiva Katz yelled above the crowd and explained to everyone that we would need to create orderly lines in order not to overwhelm the clerks. He also let us know that they had set aside a place for davening and that Chabad had prepared food. This helped reduce the stress in the room and the process became more orderly as people were focused on getting to their rooms and ready for Shabbos in the 40 minutes we had left to Shkia.
Walking into Kabbalas Shabbos (I was late) was beautiful. The room was full of 60 or 70 men and about 10 women and everyone was singing. Rabbi Jesse Horn from Yeshiva Ateres Kohanim led Kabbalas Shabbos. We were all so happy to be able to keep Shabbos, and the davening and level of simcha was very high. I think we must have danced four or five times during Kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv.
After Kabbalas Shabbos we walked through the hotel to the dining area and I can tell you with 100% conviction that what I saw was beyond anything I could have imagined.
85% of the dining area was reserved for our Shabbos meal. The tables were set beautifully with bottles of wine, grape juice and challah rolls. Where the hotel usually displayed it’s salad bars, and assortment of cold meats it was now filled with platters of gefilte fish, 6 or 7 large bowls with a variety of salads and dips, it was as if this had planned for weeks in advance. There was plenty of fleish for the main course and an assortment of side dishes to accompany it.
The Seudah was beautiful and everyone sang zemiros and niggunim and there were many Divrei Torah. Several people had stopped at the Duty free store to get bourbon and scotch for the Oilam, and it was very leibdige and the singing went on for quite a while
I woke up several times during the night as I was still on NY time and every time I went downstairs to the lobby there were people learning together or talking about the Parsha.
Shacharis was another beautiful davening and it was interesting to see how it was a mix of Nusach Sefard, Sefardi, Ashkenaz.
After davening several people went to the kitchen to help Rabbi and Rebbetzin Hendel (the Chabad Shluchim in Athens) prepare for seuda.
There were also two shiurim being given, one in Hebrew, and one in English by Rabbi Yossi Baumol.
After the Shiurim we went to the dining room where like the previous night there were copious amounts of delicious food, a wonderful meat kugel wrapped in pastry, brisket, a large assortment of salads. Unlike the previous night, where everyone sat next to people who were closest to them hashkafically, the seating during the Shabbos day Seuda was heterogeneous. Chasidim sat and schmoozed with Tzionim, Modox sat with black hats… I only use these labels so you can visualize the seating, but there were no labels at this Seuda, we sat in true achdus.
The rest of Shabbos and the subsequent trip back to the airport and our return flight to Israel was unremarkable in that I don’t need to bore you with the details.
First I would like to thank the following people.
Rabbi Shalom Ber Sorotzkin who had the foresight before the plane took off to have his organization contact El-Al and Chabad and put pressure on to make this Shabbos happen.
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Hendel, the Chabad Rabbi and Rebbetzin based in Athens, Greece. They got the call at 11am Friday morning and by 4pm that same afternoon they had prepared a beautiful Shabbos for 150+ adults which was not lacing in anyway.
My 150+ new friends and passengers who gave me an experience and Shabbos I will never forget.
Now a quick note to to El-AL. Hi El-Al, I don’t know who handles your marketing and social media program but you wasted a huge opportunity. Next time this happens, here is what you do. You make sure you get the same hotel and that Chabad sets up a beautiful Shabbos. You hire a Greek photographer and video guy, you video the amazing Shabbos – and then you promote it as an El-Al sponsored Shabbos Unity. If you need more advice feel free to call or email me, or just send me some tickets as a thank you.
I would like to leave off with a few thoughts having just spent one of the most amazing Shabbos of my life.
1. 150+ Jews from all backgrounds and hashkafic orientations, wearing every outfit possible walked off a plane with one thought – We will keep Shabbos, even if it means sleeping in an airport.
2. Unlike our Great Grandparents, who were fired if the did not work on Shabbos (USA), or where were ostracized, and possibly incarcerated for keeping Shabbos (USSR). How often do we get a chance to be moser nefesh for Shabbos? This was a tremendous gift from Hashem to us that we had the chance to show Hashem how much we love him and his Torah, and we ALL took it.
3. Every parent in that hotel who was not able to be home with their children that Shabbos taught their child a lesson that they could not have taught them in a 100 Shabbosim at home. They showed that Shabbos means so much to Mommy, Tatty, Ima, Abba, etc that they would walk off a plane in the middle of a foreign country with no guaranty of food or a place to sleep.
4. Yom Tov in the Beis Hamikdash was probably like this Shabbos. Jews from all over coming together for Hashem and his mitzvos.I hope to see all of my fellow passengers this Pesach bringing korbanos in the Beis Hamikdash.
May we be zoche to see Mashiach and the return of the Beis Hamikdash.

With much love
Ben Chafetz


Well written!!

Thanks for the first hand info on what happened there.

Elal should definitely apologize to all the passengers, in to all charidim for the false statements that was made.


Ben Chafetz, very inspiring story.
I really enjoyed reading, we’ll written TR ;).
Very impressed that you took out from the whole ordeal only the positive.
Yes I’m sure you would have loved to make it on time to the holy land but thank God you had an uplifting inspiring shabbos.
One shabbos you won’t forget.

Jack out of the box

Just one point about something you wrote. For Elal to hire a videographer (even a non-jew) to film on Shabbos would be chillul Shabbos. Even if a non-jew would of his own accord video for the purpose of selling it to Jews we would not be allowed to buy it.




very nice, brought tears for me, this how we need to look on everything in life only shiny side thanks for the free lesson, 🙂

Susan Stearn

I know someone who was on that flight. I was so upset to hear that El Al used this as an opportunity to pit Jew against Jew to cover up their mistakes. The person in the plane told me that there was NO Violence! There Were Jews concerned with Shabbat observance and they were vocal- but not violent at all. In the end- this person I know had a beautiful Shabbat full of togetherness in Athens. People came together. That is what we have to highlight as a people. The lies created by some – including one passenger on the plane in particular- tried to divide us as a people. Very sad- but far from the truth!


Really awful, but this is why we avoid ELAL. Our family flies to Israel between 3-5 times per year. We make it a point to NEVER fly ELAL. We have spent hundreds of dollars extra to fly united over them. Out of the countless times we’ve flown them, only once was it semi enjoyable.

El Al is simply necessary

El Al exists. And must exist. Because there was a time no other airline would fly to and from Israel. And, G-d forbid, it may happen again.


Well when you have airlines like American Airlines saying they have never loss so much money in their entire existence from full flights from PHL to TLV, then I hear you. (I exaggerated a bit, but not much).


Thank you Dan for using your voice for good and standing up for truth in the face of anti charedi propaganda


Theory here.
Since pilot confused 008-002 a could of times, he may have confused the order from elal operations that went out to 008 to take off immediately and then only after takeoff realized his mistake and was to embarrassed to admit…

Joseph Abeles

I’m not surprised that ElAl proceeded to fly and I’m not surprised either that the captain was not honest with the passengers. Once you get on a plane, you basically lose some rights. The airline has the responsibility to deliver you to the destination or an alternative, but you are basically something like a package that breathes (etc.), with human needs.

ElAl is a not your friend. It is a cold-hearted calculating business. It must meet payroll and expenses every week or shutter its doors and every employee loses their job, etc. That is how things work.

The financial loss from not flying Thursday night and the return flight after Shabbos would have been quite significant. ElAl already loses money from not being able to fly on a Shabbos (etc.).

People who complain about being lied to don’t understand that corporate leaders aren’t politicians. They are more like military generals, there to get the job done. What they say is chosen to get the job done, not to assuage the passengers. A little subterfuge to get everyone in their seats for take off is nothing in the greater scheme of things.

Complaining that ElAl didn’t explain why the crew arrived late is superfluous. New York and the region underwent a crippling unpredicted snow storm. People suffered, spending many hours getting home that night all over the area.

It’s miraculous that the Athens Chabad and ElAl were able to create a suitable Shabbos lodging and catering experiences complete with davening, Baruch HaShem.


Thank You For Standing Up To #FAKENEWS


This was such a beautiful sight to behold. Jews fighting for Shabbos: Our gift to humanity. Other Jews fighting for reasonableness, and finally a great compromise to land in Rome . This whole episode sanctifies The Jewish People!


Steven, eh… I hear what you are saying. There are many positives and negatives that religiously came out of this. I am far from a tzadik, but I would not have boarded that plane after the 8PM hour. I’d like to know why others initially thought that landing two hours (at best!) before shabbos would be sanctifying? I’m talking about the late boarding time from the terminal gate, not the time spent sitting on the tarmac for hours. Unless an emergency, the gift of shabbos would be a more sincere gift if not taking winter international travel on Thursday night. I’ve heard of winter travel from TLV to JFK on a Thursday night because you are gaining time, not losing time- which would be more reasonable and sensible.

Jack out of the box

I’m pretty sure that Dan’s report is the most thorough and objective of anything you’ll read about this unfortunate incident. (Dan has numerous times cautioned against booking flights which are scheduled too close to Shabbos so don’t rant about him just bashing Elal.)

Thanks Dan!


opps meant Athens!


Haredim think they are blameless and non Haredim think they are blameless.
Imagin that.


Someone must correct the general media’s account of what happened, for example stories like this; http://www.israelhayom.com/2018/11/18/passengers-furious-as-el-al-flight-diverted-to-europe-over-haredi-protest/?platform=hootsuite

Regular gentleman.

Hope someone files a lawsuit and makes real money of their lies…

Ben K

I was on the flight and yes maybe it isn’t the best thing to fly on Thursday but anyone I spoke to over Shabbos had a very valid reason why they needed to take that flight.
We were supposed to land 11:40 which is hours before Shabbos.
Everything in this article and what Ben Chafetz said is 100 percent correct.
Not one person on the flight were happy at all.
I was sitting next to a guy who decided to take the Israir flight to Tel Aviv and he wasn’t any happier that it would be hours till he got home.
Elal was obviously trying to act in their best interest because all planes made it back to Israel.
Thank you Dan for all that you do.


Dan I’ve always thought you would make a great lawyer, but guess life wouldn’t be as much fun 🙂


People keep saying that when Shabbos observers decide to take a Friday flight, they knowingly expose themselves to an increased risk of violating shabbos, even if the flight is scheduled to arrive hours before shabbos, because there is always a chance that things will go wrong and the flight is delayed for several hours. Although there is some merit to this logic, it ignores that the same logic applies to El Al. When El Al decides to operate a flight on Friday, it knowingly exposes itself to an increased risk of violating shabbos, even if the flight is scheduled to arrive hours before shabbos, because there is always a chance that things will go wrong and the flight is delayed for several hours. If El Al cannot handle (or does not have sufficient control over) the situation when things go wrong regarding observing shabbos, then they should not schedule flights that can potentially violate shabbos. End of story …


Dan and all readers following this story: Please check this out on hamodia.com
“Israeli Channel 10 Shows Doctored Video From El Al Flight 002”


I emailed the CEO of Elal the following:
Only someone foolish enough to start up with shabbos, is foolish enough to start up with chareidim who are the bread and butter of their business.


Does it not occur to anyone that we should be following our Gedolim on this topic?
Maybe it is not such a good idea to ban them – they would then have no reason to not fly on Shabbos.
The only reason their current policy is not to fly on Shabbos – is so they should not loose their Chareidy customers through a ban (like in the past).
Bottom line is – this is not something we can take into our own hands…..


My daughter and her friends were on that flight. We were on the phone many times during the course of that evening. At around 11:40 she called me and said that they told them that they were going back to the gate. I told her I don’t believe them that they would probably just take off and they did. When she called me from Greece in the morning she said that it was beyond crazy, the frustration at not knowing what happened. There was no violent behavior. That’s a bunch of baloney. El Al owes everyone an apology and a refund for the fiasco of a flight.


It’s time for charidim to stop flying El Al until they apologizes for what they did, and start to rectify there behavior. There are plenty choices of airlines, El Al should not take the charidim for granted!

Rachel G

Elal should have been boycotted a long time ago


Dan, is it safe to take an elal flight tonight 9:15, arriving 2:40pm tomorrow? Would they let me depart from plane if delay occurs?