web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



El Al Rabbi Alienates Passengers with Loudspeaker Traveler’s Prayer

My first reaction to this story was: El Al has its own rabbi?

the road prayer

Photo Credit: Original image by Moshe Shai / Flash90

Share Button

Passengers boarding El Al flights in recent days have been surprised to hear the traditional Traveler’s Prayer (Tefillat HaDerech) over their plane’s public address system, as they entered the plane and once again as the plane was taxiing to its takeoff position, Yedioth Aharonot reported.

An airline employee told Yedioth that, about two years ago, the company placed a sign with the text of the Traveler’s Prayer at the entrance, and passengers did not complain because they barely noticed it.

“But now we’re receiving complaints from the air crews and the passengers. The company employs many non-Jews, and it’s certainly unpleasant,” the El Al employee said.

A non-Jewish El Al passenger told Yedioth that in the U.S. airlines have switched from the “Merry Christmas” greeting to “Season’s Greetings,” to spare the feelings of non-Christian passengers. Although, as Bill O’reilly correctly argued, this year, with Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving day, there’s nothing but the C holiday in the season, which should free those airlines to return to the more parochial salutation.

El Al responded to the complaints by saying the public address system Traveler’s Prayer was initiated by the company chaplain, Rabbi Yochanan Chayut. They also announced that the prayer would be removed by the end of the week.

Rabbi Chayut was ordered to attend a hearing on his decision, before the company brass.

My first reaction to this story was: El Al has its own rabbi?

Should Egged, the national bus company, have a rabbi, too? What about the trains? Car rental companies? Large parking lots? major intersections?

I called Rabbi Chayut’s office, where a very polite gentleman answered me that El Al uses the services of 11 kitchens worldwide, and so it requires a Rabbi to monitor their kashrut standards.

Yes, I would concede that El Al needs a mashgiach—kashrut supervisor, for sure. But the great thing about a mashgiach is that the parameters of his or her area of authority are limited to food purchase and preparation, including, I’m sure, Shabbat and holiday related food preparation issues.

But as soon as you promote your mashgiach to company rabbi, he’s bound to seek other things to do once all the kashrut procedures had been taken care off for the day.

Like playing the Traveler’s Prayer over the loudspeaker system.

This gesture may sound harmless enough, and I’m sure the majority of the passengers were not deeply scarred by hearing some Jewish guy asking God to protect them from the dangers of the road (including from wild animals, which is always a bonus).

It’s highly problematic, though, if one promotes it as being a prayer. It isn’t. It’s some text a guy is reading over the PA system. Prayer must be uttered by the individual—or the group—with intent. You’re talking to God, for heaven’s sake, it’s not a commercial.

Just as hearing the shofar blown over the radio does not constitute fulfilling the mitzvah of hearing a shofar on Rosh Hashanah, so is hearing a recorded prayer entirely worthless.

But it has many negative effects, such as being loathed by a few passengers, who are now armed with one more reason to hate their forefathers’ tradition.

It would have worked better if the captain, or one of the flight crew were to read it, just before the exit door speech. Then he or she would be actually asking God to protect them, and the recitation would have value.

Or maybe, after landing, as the crew ineffectually asks the passengers to remain seated as the airplane taxis to the airport, the crew can add Birkat HaGomel, the Thanksgiving Prayer, the prayer one is mandated to say after completing a dangerous journey, traveling overseas and getting out of jail.

But, of course, as these things tend to evolve in work places, the entire thing would become a mockery in a short time, like everything spiritual that’s forced by decree.

Incidentally, I’m hiring a rabbi for my car. It’s a 2011 Chevy which could use spiritual guidance, for sure. Traveler’s prayers mandatory.

Share Button

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

50 Responses to “El Al Rabbi Alienates Passengers with Loudspeaker Traveler’s Prayer”

  1. If the Jewish airline of a Jewish State cannot offer a Jewish Prayer for the safety of ALL the passengers on its flight – there is something wrong here! Let the Rabbi give his prayer!

  2. absolutely ridiculous…no one should be forced to listen to others pray or talk on a cell phone

  3. Josh Barrack says:

    Convert to another religion and don’t fly to or from Israel if you don’t like it. Oh but you’re SO progressive. I’ll bet that you spend your millions visiting Muslim countries and raving about the ‘culture.’ The ‘Jewish’ press is socialist dreck.

  4. Prayers should be done in silence. They are between you and god. This is something private and not a road show, some respect, brains and common sense should are advised and applied… <3

  5. Gitta Zarum says:

    On a recent flight, the lady next to me, a Spanish Catholic was reciting her own travellers' prayer whilst I recited mine. Why should anyone find such a prayer objectionable? As someone else commented, when the muezzin call to prayer, not all those within hearing distance of it are Muslim.

  6. Henna du Plessis says:

    May Hashem bless The Rabbi. However, can not force our beliefs on heathens and others. Avraham Avi Hect could possibly show respect by wirting GOD in caps.

  7. Just another reason to use other airlines flying to Israel.

  8. Barbara Arfe says:

    it is still great to ask G-d for help in keeping one safe. ElAl, after all, is a Jewish airline, and probably the only one!

  9. I wish that I'd be able to say the prayer along with someone or say amen. Sometimes its' very hard to see the prayer and say it properly on airplanes. I went on two NBN flights as a journalist and I was disappointed that at least then, the prayer wasn't said over the loudspeaker.

  10. Yori Yanover says:

    Gil Gilman · I finally managed to drive you nuts. My work is done.

  11. I take one exception to one point in this article. It says, hearing the Shofar being blown on the radio is not the same thing as hearing it in the synagogue. I actually don't hear it on the radio but hear it through streaming video on the Internet. I wonder how the author of the article would treat that, I am among the Jewish poor, and can't afford to be a member of a synagogue, let alone afford High Holy Day tickets. Does this make me less of a Jew? I experience the same joy and energy from the blowing of the Shofar when I watch on line as I would if I were in the synagogue. I defy this author to tell me I was not spiritually affected by the experience.

  12. Murray Kane says:

    Abe, shuls in Toronto always set aside tickets for the HH for those who can't afford it, not to mention most Chabad center's.

  13. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I, personally, wouldn't mind it one bit. Anyone who does can put cotton in their ears.

  14. Sad. Why not a prayer? Does it hurt? I think not.

  15. Yori Yanover says:

    If there's a synagogue nearby, you will probably not be rejected if you come in to hear the shofar. You are also performing the mitzvah by standing outside the synagogue and listening. If you are immobile, a call to the nearest Chabad House will get you a place for the holiday and accommodations for prayer, free of charge. In general, I have not heard of Orthodox synagogues that prevent Jews from attending the services — I'm not saying there aren't any, but I never heard of any.

  16. Yori Yanover says:

    Jonathan Weber – I'm all for it, if the rabbi is there, praying. That would be an excellent use of his time. But it's just a recording, much like "Shop at max's house of haberdashery," which does not count as prayer at all, nowhere, no how.

  17. Yori Yanover and to Murray Kane: The problem is also finances. The nearest synagogue is over 30 miles away, I seriously doubt that Chabad would schlep all the way here to take me to and from.

  18. There's nothing offensive in the traveler's prayer unless whoever hears it happens to be an aetheist. It can be recited in English in addition to Hebrew and the flight attendant could ask over the loudspeaker if there are any passengers who want to read it on behalf of their fellow fliers – like being a shaliach b'tzibur in the air. I people all over the plane will be raising their hands.

  19. Yori Yanover says:

    Abe Ezekowitz – Try them. Let me know.

  20. Yori Yanover Will it matter to them if I'm not Orthodox?

  21. John Whitbread says:

    Do not fall for the hype. The very idea of yielding to people who declare their feelings hurt by the legitimate expressions of faith of those who believe is uttely illogical. It is enshrining intolerence not promoting tolerence. If they find G-d to be an offence to them thenwill they please explain why they are so offended by something they claim does not exist.

  22. Yori Yanover says:

    Abe Ezekowitz – Not in the least. Orthodox is a title slapped on observant Jews by the Reform, to suggest that we are old and stale and dogmatic. All we want is a genuine connection with a Jewish brother or sister.

  23. Yori Yanover says:

    Abe Ezekowitz – Not in the least. Orthodox is a title slapped on observant Jews by the Reform, to suggest that we are old and stale and dogmatic. All we want is a genuine connection with a Jewish brother or sister.

  24. Carolin Knox says:

    This entire story is just sad. Why are Jews going to Israel, if not for their heritage. I don't get anyone complaining, or the specific points of the author….it was read over a Mic, there wasn't a Minyan…what?? Israel is the Jewish state, not a mini-me of America. And, if prayers are meant to be silent, I guess you don't go to shul (church,or whatever).

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
BDS targets Zabar's; Carole Zabar promotes BDS proponents.
All in the Family: BDS Protests Zabars; Carole Zabar Promotes BDS
Latest News Stories
BDS targets Zabar's; Carole Zabar promotes BDS proponents.

Carole Zabar, longtime supporter of BDS promoters, is now in a pickle – Zabar’s is a BDS target.

Rav Bina, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh has sent the following letter out to alumni of the Yeshiva: Dear Alumni, This Wednesday one of my grandchildren will be undergoing crucial surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his leg. I ask all of you to please recite tehillim for him during the surgery, […]

Naftali Bennett speaking in the Knesset

PA president Abbas, who is about 9 years late for democratic elections, has threatened to dismantle the PA and annul the Oslo Accords. Sounds good to us…

Hamas supporters marching on the Temple Mount, waving Hamas flags.

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and his family’s visit to the Temple Mount was cut short when violent rioting once again broke out on the holy site.

Anti-semitic attacks have escalated with the firebombing of a synagogue in the Ukraine. Watch the video of the attack…

A surprised group of hikers stumbled across human bones in a Gush Etzion cave. But what they actually found was even more astounding.

Many Pakistanis consider bin Laden a “hero of Islam.”

Two major obstacles have kept Israel from joining the program: Allegations by U.S. officials that Israel has discriminated against Arab- and Muslim-Americans seeking entry, and a proliferation of young Israelis traveling to the United States as tourists and then working illegally.

A Lebanese man who was arrested in Thailand on suspicion of belonging to Hezbollah admitted to targeting Israelis, Thai media reported.

On Friday afternoon, Syrian fighter jets hit opposition/rebel targets and villages on the Syrian side of the Ramat HaGolan (Golan Heights), in the Quneitra region. Large pillars of smoke are seen rising from struck areas. Quneitra is the site of an official crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan. IAF jets were sent out […]

As Rabbi Stav said, “You’re free to think what you want. But do you want me to recognize Chelsea Clinton’s child as a Jew?”

Chimpanzees and Orangutans eat Matza, unleavened bread traditionally eaten during the Passover holiday, at the Ramat Gan Safari on Thursday, April 17, 2014. I hope they can digest it. On Passover no leavened bread (Chametz) is allowed in Jewish possession, and that includes food we feed our animals.

Following intelligence reports of further expected Arab rioting and violence on the Temple Mount today, the police have placed restrictions on Muslim entry to the Jewish holy site, according to a report on Arutz-7. Entry will be limited to Muslims over the age of 50, and women, also they must be Israeli citizens or residency […]

PA President Abbas’s refusal to publicly condemn the terror attack that killed Baruch Mizrachi is putting a damper on the parade.

The Shas political party, founded and run by the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, has a appointed a new spiritual leader, according to a Galei Tzahal report. The rabbi chosen to replace Harav Ovadia and be the new president of the party’s Council of Torah Sages is Rabbi Shalom Cohen. Aryeh Deri is the political leader […]

In 1941, the Jews of Kiev received a similar leaflet. When they showed up the next day, more than 34,000 were murdered.

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/el-al-rabbi-alienates-passengers-with-loudspeaker-road-prayer/2013/12/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: