Once again, El Al’s Haredi passengers are furious at Israel’s national carrier, this time also about ruining their Shabbat, but in a new way:
According to Kikar HaShabbat, El Al flight 028 from New York landed Friday morning in Ben-Gurion International with 200 Haredim onboard, about 160 of them Bobov Chasidim returning from a wedding, and all these nice folks ready to embrace Queen Shabbat were told the suitcases with their Shabbat clothes and Shtreimlach were left behind in Newark “for security reasons.”
The passengers who left without their luggage, including their Shabbat best, were furious and disappointed. “They told us it was for security reasons, but the feeling is that it was a technical problem that left us in this situation,” one passenger told Kikar HaShabbat.
According to the passengers, the loading of the flight’s suitcases began late and an argument broke out between the pilot and the security force. The pilot announced he was not waiting any longer and took off at once, leaving behind two pallets with about 200 suitcases – apparently jam packed with shtreimlach.
A shtreimel (plural shtraimlach) is a fur hat worn by many married Haredi Jewish Chasidim on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Made from sable or mink, today’s shtreimlach sell for as much as $5,000 each.
The late Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman’s chauffeur, Rabbi Yitzchak Rosengarten, who was on the flight, told Kikar HaShabbat: “It’s a shame that El Al is lying and does not tell the passengers the truth. I will continue to travel with them despite all the mess, because they’re usually fair and their staff is excellent, but it hurts me to know that many people will abandon the company because of these stories.”
El Al has issued a statement saying: “Due to a TSA lack of manpower in Newark, the luggage was delayed at the inspection and arrived for our own security check after the plane had been boarded. It was not our fault at all.”
Feel the empathy…
Last week, another PR storm erupted between El Al and its Haredi passengers its plane departed late from New York on Friday, making it virtually certain it would land in Israel after the start of Shabbat. The company decided to land the religious passengers in Athens but later accused them of rioting violently when they heard the news, which turned out to be a lie.