The Sky’s the Limit: Celebrating El Al

By Sarah Kessler

Published March 04, 2009, issue of March 13, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

‘And on the 2,083,785th day El Al was created,” proclaims an old color ad for the Israeli airline, divine light breaking across the runway as a plane touches down into the Holy Land.

Overworked: A humorous El Al poster, created in 1960, shows a beleaguered flight attendant.
FROM THE COLLECTION OF MARVIN G. GOLDMAN
Overworked: A humorous El Al poster, created in 1960, shows a beleaguered flight attendant.

Whether it was a last-minute act of divine creation in 5707 or an act of political expediency in 1948, the “Airline of Israel” celebrated its 60th anniversary last year — and recently, its most devoted fan published his second book on the subject.

“El Al: Israel’s Flying Star” by Marvin G. Goldman, a lawyer, aviation historian and the world’s largest collector of El Al memorabilia, charts in obsessive detail the history of commercial aviation in Israel.

“My main focus in the book is to show how the birth and development of the airline actually parallel the birth and development of the State of Israel,” Goldman told The Shmooze in a phone interview from his home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where he keeps his 10,000-piece El Al collection. (His wife has just about confined the collection to one room.)

“I like the association and involvement of the airline with the State of Israel. It gives me a feeling of attachment to [the country]. It wouldn’t be the same if I was collecting Finnair or Lufthansa,” said Goldman, who has flown on El Al more than 100 times since 1978.

“Israel’s Flying Star,” which was eight months in the making and several years in the planning, is illustrated with images of hundreds of items from Goldman’s collection, covering everything from music to military action. The book features the score to the exuberant song “To Fly El Al,” written in 1981 by Naomi Shemer and played over the loudspeaker on every incoming El Al flight for several years (the tune was recently rerecorded by El Al staff and posted on YouTube). It also includes information on Operation Solomon, the 1991 evacuation of some 14,000 Ethiopians, about half of whom were transported to Israel on El Al airlifts. During the rescue, the airline received special dispensation from the Israeli Rabbinate in order to fly on the Sabbath.

Goldman’s hope is that a civil aviation museum will be established in Israel and that his collection, an integral part of the country’s history, will find a new home. “There are certain aspects I would miss,” he admitted while discussing the possibility of giving away his memorabilia. “I have to tell you secretly on the side — my favorite items I try to collect in duplicates, so I can still enjoy.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.