Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Israel News

The Sky’s the Limit: Celebrating El Al

‘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.

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.

Overworked: A humorous El Al poster, created in 1960, shows a beleaguered flight attendant. Image by From the collection of Marvin G. Goldman

“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.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.