Jan 12, 2009

El Al courts the haredi public

El Al has made a couple of big moves recently that should go down well with the Haredi public and bring them that sector in big numbers.

  1. LaDaat.net and Ynet are reporting that El Al has decided to start flying flights that will be deemed "mehadrin". Marty Bluke posted about this. The main points will be that there will be no movies, only mehadrin food, separate seating with only male stewards in the mens section, and they will even allow people to carry on their boxes of matza during Pesach travel season and not force them to check them under as baggage.
  2. El Al recently had a delay on a Friday flight from Madrid. Instead of running the flight and landing a few minutes late (into Shabbos time), as they would have in the olden days, they canceled the whole flight, put up all the passengers in a hotel for shabbos, and then flew them to Israel Saturday night.

Clearly they feel the future of their business is the Haredi public, to invest so much into it. While it is blessed that they are doing their utmost to "keep shabbos", at least in the public eye, running mehadrin flights is a ridiculous new standard to impose on people.

Soon we are going to hear rules in the frum community such as if a person is caught having flown on a non-mehadrin flight their kids will be thrown out of school. People will not be able to get shidduchim for their kids because they fly on non-mehadrin flights.

19 comments:

  1. I can't believe that no one knows that although El Al's planes don't take off or land on shabbat their ground crews are busy servicing those planes every day except Yom Kippur. So El Al may not fly on shabbat but that certainly doesn't make them shomerei shabbat. And don't kid yourself the folks servicing the airplanes are Jewish. It seems to me this should be as much an issue as what you put in your mouth and who hands it to you.

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  2. What is worse is that normal people (and I mean that word "normal") are going to have this ridiculous farce imposed on them when all they want to do is get from A to B with their wife / daughters /elderly grandmother. I think this could lead to them losing business as well.

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  3. Risa - what the "Committee for Holy Transport" wants is not necessarily "shmirat shabbat" from El Al (though they would like that), just that the chillul shabbat should not be blatant, in your face, flying the friendly skies with Israels flag on the tail.

    Because El Al was Israel's airline for so long (even though now they are mostly private), them flying on shabbat, is a public display of chillul shabbat. Even though everybody knows ground crew works, along with every other aspect of El Al (and Sundor does fly on shabbos), but at least they are not flying, and nobody can say El Al, Israel's airline, flies on shabbos.

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  4. rafi - that will definitely happen, if the project gets off the ground successfully.
    Hopefully the normal haredim will be strong enough to say they are not interested and El Al will decide it is not worth it.

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  5. What's wrong with the Mehadrin flights?

    If there is enough demand it sounds like a good business decision, provided that the flights are clearly advertised and sold as Mehadrin.

    This would give the consumers the option to decide what type of flight they want, although we'll see whether there is really a market for these types of flights - hard to believe that a Hareidi family would really want to travel separately so that one parent (guess which one) would be stuck with all the kids.

    I'm surprised that El Al didn't opt for the solution that Tower Flights used, a "Mehadrin" section at the back of the plane where there were no movies and male staff etc.
    This is surely the best of all worlds as it also makes a convenient place for Tefilla without disturbing other passengers.

    Anyway, business is business which is all that this issue boils down to.

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  6. I have no problem with El Al. It is a business decision. they feel it is worthwhile, and they will weigh continuing it based on its success or failure.

    My problem is with creating these chumros and then imposing them on society and forcing people, who are not interested, to adhere to them. Which is what will likely happen.

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  7. The problem is they are not courting the Haredi consumer directly. Instead, a new vaad of askanim will, on El Als tab,be in charge of overseeing the operation on behalf of the Chareidi community. They therefore will then have a financial interest in imposing the new standard.
    It will be very hard to impose this on anyone besides Yesivas and Seminaries, due to price and schedule constraints.

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  8. If you read the Ynet article (I didn't read lada'at - it may be there too), these flights will essentially be run as charter flights, just like NBN runs charter flights that are pretty open only to Olim and NBN staff/guests. The flights will only be run at "peak" times for hareidim, so it shouldn't really impact anyone else too much, besides lowering the number of hareidim on regular flights during these times.

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  9. Rafi -
    " Rafi G said...
    Risa - what the "Committee for Holy Transport" wants is not necessarily "shmirat shabbat" from El Al (though they would like that), just that the chillul shabbat should not be blatant, in your face, flying the friendly skies with Israels flag on the tail."

    Your source for this being their hakpada? Btw from a halachik point of view - let's say it takes 7 hours to prep a plane (Risa-do you know the #), why isn't it forbidden to fly the motzai shabbat run?

    fwiw if I were El Al I'd charge more than the normal charter rates after consulting with the gedolim and finding out how much more would one halachically be required to spend to avoid the non-charedi flights.

    KT
    Joel Rich

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  10. the israeli flag on the tail is just dramatics on my part, but the rest of it is what they said when they were fighting with el al two years ago and working on a cherem.

    They claim that people see the words "el al" and think "Israel".
    El Als name is part and parcel with Israels and therefore if they fly on shabbos, people think of Israel as being mechalel shabbos blatantly.

    that was the cause of the whole fight to begin with.

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  11. Joel, I don't know how long it takes (meaning, I assume, that if the plane leaves at 1 am on motzei shabbat is it possible that they were able to do all the prepping after havdala).
    But the bone I am picking is this:
    Are these guardians of shabbat saying that they want it to LOOK like there is no chilul shabbat (as Rafi says not seeing the star on the tail of the plane moving on shabbat) or do they really want there to BE no chillul shabbat (as in no El Al workers working on shabbat). Well, I must ask, would they eat their glatt meals if they were prepared by Jews on shabbat?
    Is there a halachic parallel here???

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  12. Risa - good question. Perhaps they realize that that much is too much to demand. but the actual flight itself is within reach that at least the public appearance of El Al flying will be avoided, and they are willing to settle for that.

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  13. Naftali from RBSA (BTYA)January 12, 2009 11:03 PM

    Darche achrina according to the gemara is not interpeted as a "chumra". And if someone wants to run a charter for it - kol hakovod.

    We live in in a free society. The only person once can blame when they accept something they view as unecessary to make others happy is themselves !

    If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything - lekula and lechumra.

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  14. "I'm surprised that El Al didn't opt for the solution that Tower Flights used, a "Mehadrin" section at the back of the plane where there were no movies and male staff etc.
    This is surely the best of all worlds as it also makes a convenient place for Tefilla without disturbing other passengers."

    and aren't the bathrooms in the back of the plane? don't the women pass by anyway?

    "Darche achrina according to the gemara is not interpeted as a "chumra". And if someone wants to run a charter for it - kol hakovod."

    does the gemara say you have to create a darka achrina? are the women washing in the river on the plane? are any untzniusdik women really avoided? must husbands and wives be separated?

    the problem i have with this is that these mehadrin moves do not actually make a difference, no one survives in modern society without seeing women. what has been accomplished anyway. are there mehadrin passport checkers also? are women off the street when they arrive and leave? these are bandaids to a problem (pritzus of modern society) that cannot be solved, and we must at the moment live with and learn to resist temptations we can do nothing about. these measures only make us look crazy. Why ban stewardesses rather than ask them to dress modestly , must we look like the taliban? We alienate people, keep haredim from interacting with hilonim and influencing them (who will fly on mehadrin flights with them?) and not incidentally inconvenience most haredim who I'm sure mostly do not desire to split up their family on buses and planes. Like RYKaminetsky said, it's important to 'Be normal"

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  15. "no one survives in modern society without seeing women"

    no one who's flying on planes at least

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  16. They're talking about charter flights. Not regulat scheduled ones. Noone will be 'mehadrinized" against their will.

    Ashman

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  17. The people who are yerei shamayim to be makpid on not seeing women unnecessarily should also be makpid on the halacha of not leaving Eretz Yisroel unnecessarily.

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  18. oh, if it's charter flights only, that's one thing. otherwise, with only 1-2 flights per day from NY-TLV, mehadrinizing would really put a lot of people off. maybe a frummie section and a family section?

    take out a row of seats, put in an extra wall to separate the frummies from the families, charge the frummies extra for the missing row - i mean, hey, they want the extra accommodation, they should pay for it.

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