Thursday, 6 Tishri, 5784
  |  September 21, 2023

“I Was On Friday’s El Al Flight”

Responding to reports of frum people rioting on an El Al flight, Ben Chafetz describes what he witnessed and how he spent Shabbos in an Athens hotel, hosted by Chabad. Full Story

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Still thinking of COLLIVE readers
December 3, 2018 8:39 am

Happy Chanukah to all of the holy readers of COLLIVE. I, Motty ben Avraham Meir, have come back to this article to ensure that many have not been waiting to hear more from me. During the lighting of the first candle of Chanukah I performed hisbonenus hanefesh and was overcome with joy and dread that perhaps, maybe, some readers anxiously read to here if perhaps, I might have, maybe, reconsidered my position and decided to undertake the research I so publicly promised in order to dispel untruths that were vomited by commentator 54 (again, I use the term ‘vomit’ only… Read more »

Do you really believe yourself when you say it is possible to go back to the gate?
November 27, 2018 5:56 pm

It means to take out all the baggage, which means to check every suitcase ’cause half of the passangers wish to get off the plane. The flight would have probably been cancelled.

And one last thing
November 27, 2018 11:30 am

And one last thing because so many readers are likely coming back to this article to ensure that truth is recorded in a proper manner: It is, as was indicated in the previous comment, yud tes kislev. A day in which I and many other, if not every Jew in klal Yisroel, is overcome with joy for the spreading of chassidus. It is theretofore, encumbent on as many of us as possible to spread the words of chassidus to not only those we know but those we don’t know. To commentator #54, again, who was threatening to argue with me… Read more »

An decision to change my mind
November 27, 2018 10:48 am

Apologies again are required. Despite my previous post I have decided to actually my post here instead of a newer post because I am certain many will be coming here to find my research. On that note I must say the following: In anticipation of information being conveyed by me, as was promised in my previous comment. I am heretofore writing so that I may not keep fellow yidden ankshus and waiting. I very publicly promised, within the measure of my power, on my last comment to conduct a study investigating the varacity of my stated opinion that perhaps many… Read more »

A Follow Up And Public Plee For Mercy
November 27, 2018 9:03 am

Please see my comments on a recent post for a follow up and PUblic plee for mercy regarding the information I had undertaken to provide to COLLIVE readers in order to combat wrong and possibly hateful comments by commentator 54 who will remain nameless, thank G-d. However, to clarify, as was done in my previous post, this person has been awarded the benefit of doubt given the parable of the one body assertion also earlier mentioned by the TT (that is short for Tzemach Tzaddik). I would state my public plee and apology for not being able to conduct the… Read more »

To 54
November 21, 2018 9:06 am

I am surprised by your surprise. The statement I made was fully comprehended in the context of the words that were used. A shaliach is someone who is works toward that goal through years of training and rigorous study. They are sent to a location that is needed for them after careful analysis of the layout, in the yiddishkeit sense. Because you very vocally and publicly pushed me on the issue I have to acknowledge somewhat the fact that you are fair to ask the question but a shaliach is appointed. In practice, it is the truth that most married… Read more »

To 51
November 21, 2018 4:43 am

What do you mean by that his wife is also a shliach? As opposed to what?

send this article to the israeli papers!
November 20, 2018 12:01 am

I think it’s imperative that this write-up be sent to all letters-to-the edtor columns of the major Israeli newspapers, especially the ones who reported a chareidi “riot” on the plane. It should be made clear to the media that frum American Jews expect an apology from them for publishing this fake news report without even checking the “other side”of the story. Having said that, I will actually add that I kind of feel bad for the powers that be at El-Al. It’s terrible for them that one of their pilots turned out to be such a nasty, unreliable person, who… Read more »

Pity about El Al
November 19, 2018 8:15 pm

What impressed me most unfavorably was the lying done by the pilot. You can’t kidnap passengers and then pretend that they were dangerous to cover your bases when they speak up. This airline has an unfortunate history of discrimination against religious passengers. I do believe there will be financial repercussions – It’s just plain common sense to behave like a mentch to a huge sector of your client base. What other airline would dare tell ALL their passengers that they are just going to the gate and then turn the plane around and take flight. Very untrustworthy – the last… Read more »

A reply to 50
November 19, 2018 3:33 pm

Ask any rav, he should be able to tell you. It is that obvious but I agree with your argument whole heartedly. Now is the time for being dan l’chaf zechus. I am just glad that the shaliach of Athens, and his wife, who I have confirmed is also a shaliach, were able to assist and help all those in need. THey are the real story and the halachic dimension, although always essential for the life of a yid, in this particular instance (even though not much of a machlokes concerning the clarity of the position, again, any rav should… Read more »

#49 -- Motty -- which halacha?
November 19, 2018 1:49 pm

Which halacha are you referring to, that you think is clear? If you think there is a halacha that one may not travel on Erev Shabbos you are incorrect. Obviously one must leave a reasonable buffer for possible delays, but most people would consider five hours acceptable.

Halacha is clear on this.
November 19, 2018 1:02 pm

The halacha is clear. Everyone knows it. Interesting that the Jerusalem Report reported the story as Chareidim causing a riot on the plane. I wonder if the truth of the statement is the same clarity in which the halacha mandates the answer that is known. Athens shluchim did a great thing but people need to be ready to face the consequences of what might happen. If the halacha is so clear then it is obvious that the consequences are also clear. Good thing the shaliach and his wife, who I assume is also a shaliach, was ready to receive. I… Read more »

November 19, 2018 9:06 am

Amazing Story

Athens shluchim
November 19, 2018 9:00 am

Echoing that they are terrific. I’m so happy and amazed to hear that they were able to do so much on such short notice. My husband and I had a great time on our visit there when I was there for work.

File a suit
November 19, 2018 2:01 am

You should gather the religious Jews from the flight and for a defamation suit against elal and news agencies for how they misrepresent you in the global news.

#12 is not so good at math...
November 18, 2018 5:33 pm

…, so better to consult the El Al posted schedules. The daily 6:30 pm flight from JFK arrives at TLV — if on time! — at 11:30 AM, 1.e in the morning.

Athens Shluchim
November 18, 2018 5:29 pm

I was in Athens for business and all I can say is that the shluchim there are amazing. Kol hakavod

Chabad to the Rescue again
November 18, 2018 3:26 pm

Who else would have 150 extra guests for shabbat on a few hours notice but Chabad Shuluchim – they are the hero and heroine of this story and may Hashem grant them with the bracha of hatzlacha in every way and certainly the Rebbe had much nachat to know that no matter what the circumstances the shaluchim he sent will always rise to the occasion –

Amazing hint in the Haftorah
November 18, 2018 2:44 pm

As we know, one can often find connection to events in the weekly Parsha and Haftorah. BeHashgacha Protis the first possuk of this past Shabbos Hatorah (ועמי תלואים למשובתי; ואל על יקראוהו יחד לא ירומם ), can be interperted with a little poetic license like this: “My people are hanging on (committed to) my Shabbos, and to El Al they call out, together they will not take off.” The next few Pesukim speak of how Hashem’s Rachamim is aroused for the Yidden (Efraim) in Eretz Yisrael – despite any flaws – and will not allow them to be harmed. And… Read more »

It's all good.
November 18, 2018 12:34 pm

Also for dear number 12 granted you have a point but minding your manners about the way you approach would be the elite of perfection let’s put it this way you have a great chance to do your own Teshuva and we’ all called it “TITZKET LE MITZVA”….

To #21
November 18, 2018 11:57 am

Thought about responding to each point of yours.
Realized people that call others names usually have that deficiency themselves.
So I choose not to argue with you.
It continues to shock me how people can just see negative in any situation. Refua shlaima

November 18, 2018 11:20 am

chabad of Athens Rebbe’s shluchim Wow! wow! w0w!

Moshe Aron Kestenbaum ODA
November 18, 2018 11:04 am

It’s a chutzpah to board a plane on Thursday afternoon to Israel , we all are aware of numerous hiccups that could happen and if you are a responsible shomer Shabbass yid you just don’t leave so late on a 5500 mile trip . I am mocha for creating creating a massive nissayon for chillul shaboss , and for Reb Sortzkin I have a message , reb Sorotzkin had no business being so late on this plane he should have known better, you lost my respect for you reb sortskin .

November 18, 2018 9:04 am

…and in this week’s Haftorah it mentions El Al…

November 18, 2018 8:54 am

I am amazed at how quick those meals were made and for 150+ people and how amazing it must have been to learn with a different “custom”

November 18, 2018 8:50 am

I would like to hear the Hendel’s version of the story!

#25, the reports were about THIS flight
November 18, 2018 8:48 am

No, the reports were NOT about the second flight that landed on Shabbos. I don’t know what was the basis for the heter, since in a true pikuach nefesh situation they should have landed *earlier*, at the first place with medical facilities, but in any case that flight was to have landed only one hour before sunset, so it would not have had many, if any, shomrei shabbos, certainly not enough who care enough to riot. Maybe that was the basis of the heter, since the passengers would not have been keeping shabbos in Rome anyway.

#28, El Al should pay
November 18, 2018 8:41 am

But they did raise $100,000 to donate a mikveh

#12, they had every right to be on the flight
November 18, 2018 8:40 am

Yes, planes are often delayed, but not by five hours. This flight was supposed to land at 11:40 AM. That is five hours before sunset, plenty of time to get home before Shabbos, even with expected delays. In the very worst case one will land shortly before sunset and can make it to Kfar Chabad, or stay at the airport. There is NO REASON to anticipate five hours of delays, and it’s entirely El-Al’s fault that the plane was delayed at all. The fact that the group included well-known talmidei chachomim and communal leaders, who know the issues much better… Read more »

oh please
November 18, 2018 8:31 am

i love it how people who took that thursday night elal flight are now saying what they gave up for having to fly almost on shabbos if anyone is so concerned than they would make it their business not to take that flight anyone who did may i suggest you just keep it to yourself because no one will look at you in anyway other than u were an idiot for taking that flight anyway i can go on but i’ve said enough

What's the halacha?
November 18, 2018 8:28 am

Boruch Hashem, they stopped and, b’ezras Hashem, Chabad was able to provide a wonderful Shabbos. Please interview the shluchim about how they managed everything. (And put their recipe for the kugel wrapped in pastry!)
If they didn’t have a place to land, would it have been permissable to go to Eretz Yisroel? I have heard of cases of people driving cars who were told that they could continue driving ( not sure for how long). The airline and passengers should be aware of the halachas involved.

#21 Larry
November 18, 2018 8:26 am

Did you bother reading the article? They boarded 2 hours late. By the time they were 5 hours late they demanded to get off the plane and the pilot LIED to them and took off. In mid-flight they did not act like animals but like normal people who are worried about being forced to break Shabbos. If they were worried about some medical need you wouldn’t think that way about them, you would understand completely, but you think Shabbos is not really important and one should not make a fuss to avoid breaking it. And what evidence have you got… Read more »

Child of survivors of the Holocaust
November 18, 2018 8:04 am

Chabad of Athens went all out with their hospitality.
I hope the passengers considered giving monetary help toward their food!
After all, Chabad supports itself from donations – no salaries.

November 18, 2018 7:35 am

ToAuthor, Ben Chafetz, El-Al usually go out of their way ‘to please’. This time it appears that they did not. “Everything that happens, happens due to Divine Providence”. Like in this week’s Sidra, the sun set early for Jacov Ovinu. He gathered stones around his head etc. And the stones turned into ONE SINGLE STONE! In your factual, yet reverting, true account you describe the UNITY of all the Shomer Shabbos passengers of different Jewish back-ground acting in a joyous, unified way. As ONE SINGE ENTITY (similar to Yacov’s stones) – the Joy & Unity was obviously due in great… Read more »

Thanl you SO MUCH for taking the time to write this.
November 18, 2018 7:32 am

Hope this gets to tens of thousands of people- a true understanding of what happened . Am Yisrael chai

Claim of rioting was concerning a different plane
November 18, 2018 4:09 am

The other flight which was to land in rome to avoid chilul shabbos landed in israel on shabbos. They claim they got a heter due to a sick passenger

November 18, 2018 2:59 am

more videos please!!

November 18, 2018 2:53 am

A wonderful story. another spin on the story is, perhaps all these yidden including the Gedoilim on the flight, may not realize that the only purpose of this whole Saga was possibly to bring one yid on that flight to rethink his or her life and to start keeping Shabbos.
For seventy eighty years a Neshomah wears and tears just to do a favor for another…..
Yashar koach to the Rebbe’s Shluchim.

Chabad in athens
November 18, 2018 2:14 am

Soo proud of my nephew and niece! What a big kiddush hashem! Kol hakovod. Keep up your wonderful shelichus!

November 18, 2018 1:26 am

First problem was flying to Israel erev Shabbos Second problem there was a five hour delay they should’ve not have boarded the plane Or if they were on the plane gotten off the plane third problem is they created havoc in midflight acting like animals again they should have not even gone on the flight and now they are singing on a bus to a Chabad house Which I hope they will get compensated by the airline for feeding them.And by the way half of these people constantly talk negative about Chabad.PS What I say here that’s not necessarily speak… Read more »

The Hendels are amazing shluchim!
November 18, 2018 12:32 am

Yasher koach to Rabbi Mendel and Nechama Hendel! What a huge kiddush Chabad. We are proud of you, Your Relatives in Yerushalayim

Only chabad
November 18, 2018 12:26 am

This story shows how amazing chabad is, all-over the world even in Greece, chabad is always there to help every single Yid!

Dear# 12
November 17, 2018 11:12 pm

I see from the way you write that you are frumJew. And I mean that with out any jest. I am sure you are aware of the Halacha, Dan Lchaf zchus. So it’s really my duty as is yours to judge all these passengers favorable and assume that they were all emergencies or that they simple were unaware of the Halacha that you pointed out. My only wish is that you point it out in a more humble and kind manner. So even though your point is well taken. Your tone and attitude can use some more love and respect… Read more »

Thank you for sharing
November 17, 2018 11:11 pm

Very beautiful and inspiring. Mi keamcha yisroel!
ELAL should be supporting shluchim who will always pick up the pieces for them!

November 17, 2018 11:03 pm

Thanks for writing such an inspiring story.

so uplifting
November 17, 2018 11:01 pm

Such achdus. I am sure is shepping nachas from all of you.

November 17, 2018 10:49 pm

What an amazing story. Well written and I can truly visualize the experience the way the author portrayed it. The achdus in this story is telling of the true love we all have for a fellow yid. Being “modox” (a new expression to me, lol) and having previously been a chasidishe chabad bochur has shown me that despite our superficial and potential political differences, we are all similar in the most important ways when it’s all boiled away, and will quickly run to the aid of a fellow Jew in potential distress, whatever the affiliation. Kudos to the shluchim and… Read more »

November 17, 2018 10:47 pm

I hear that they were so inspired that they donated a lot of money to build a mikva there!

I’m sorry
November 17, 2018 10:46 pm

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Do the math. If your flight is scheduled out of JFK on thursday 6:30pm, you are not getting to Tel Aviv before Friday afternoon. If you are a frum Yid that is Shomer Shabbos, then (barring a serious emergency) you have NO BUSINESS booking or getting on that flight. Flights get delayed ALL THE TIME. Did EL AL act nasty? Of course they did. Was the pilot wrong for lying that he would be returning to the gate? Absolutely — and he should be fired immediately. But if you made a conscious decision to… Read more »

big Z Schapiro
November 17, 2018 10:34 pm

Beautiful thank you for sharing 🙂

November 17, 2018 10:33 pm

Go look at the non-frum Israeli sites in English that tell such a different story!

November 17, 2018 10:15 pm

Thanks for sharing an incredible kidush hashem !!!

Only one difference from #4
November 17, 2018 9:56 pm

The ‘non-frum’ passengers will also be there bringing their korbanoses and dancing with you in the Bais Hamikdosh. May it be now! What a rewarding Shabbos you had! Boruch Hashem! More than the yidden keep Shabbos,, Shabbos keeps the yidden”

This is so beautiful
November 17, 2018 9:44 pm

Thank you for sharing, it’s written so well, so positively, and it’s so inspiring

Thank you for sharing!
November 17, 2018 9:39 pm

So beautiful! Teared up

Kudos to The Shluchim!
November 17, 2018 9:28 pm

Anytime, anywhere.
There’s no other in the world!

This is proof
November 17, 2018 9:22 pm

That belief in Hashem will always come through often in the most unexpected ways.

What a wonderful way tht you described this experience.
November 17, 2018 9:20 pm

Since there are bound to be detractors, and will find some negative way to reframe this, please get ready to share the videos!

Brought tears to my eyes...
November 17, 2018 9:18 pm

What an amazing story. Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu, we are proud Jews and can stand up for keeping the Shabbos. And Kol Hakavod to the Hendels! Amazing!

November 17, 2018 9:18 pm

so so inspiring! very well expressed and wow to the organizers, to the shluchim wow wow wow, am speechless!!