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El Al to Mark Direct Flights From Miami With Shabbat at Chabad

El Al to Mark Direct Flights From Miami With Shabbat at Chabad

Former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel flew in to speak at the celebration

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Celebrating the start of direct El Al flights from Miami to Israel at a series of Shabbat events to be held at The Rok Family Shul-Chabad Downtown Jewish Center are, from left: Yoram Elgrabi, managing director of North and Central America operations for El Al airlines; Rabbi Eli Lipskar, director of operations at the Chabad center; Rabbi Chaim Lipskar, director of the Chabad center; and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, former chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and chairman of Yad Vashem.
Celebrating the start of direct El Al flights from Miami to Israel at a series of Shabbat events to be held at The Rok Family Shul-Chabad Downtown Jewish Center are, from left: Yoram Elgrabi, managing director of North and Central America operations for El Al airlines; Rabbi Eli Lipskar, director of operations at the Chabad center; Rabbi Chaim Lipskar, director of the Chabad center; and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, former chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and chairman of Yad Vashem.

As many as 500 Miami-area residents and guests will gather at The Rok Family Shul-Chabad Downtown Jewish Center on Friday night for prayer services and a celebratory Shabbat dinner, marking the fact that El Al airlines has begun nonstop flight service to Israel from this Southeast Florida city.

They will be joined by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, former chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and chairman of Yad Vashem; and El Al president and CEO David Maimon.

“We are very honored,” Rabbi Chaim Lipskar, director of the Chabad center, tells Chabad.org. “It’s very special for us for the first time to have the chief rabbi here.”

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During services on Saturday, people will read from the El Al Torah. In 2011, members of the Chabad community and representatives from El Al started adding letters to a new scroll. It was then moved around the world, where people continued its writing, including at locations such as the Wannsee villa in Germany where the Nazis agreed on the Final Solution in 1942, at the Great Wall of China and in tunnels at the Western Wall. It was completed in 2013.

The direct flights started on Nov. 1. That morning, Lau, Maimon and El Al executives landed at Miami International Airport from Israel and walked to the airline’s new offices for a ceremony to affix the mezuzah to the doorpost. Lau recited the “Shir Lama’alot” blessing, asking G‑d to protect travelers coming and going from Israel.

Rabbi Lau hangs a mezuzah on the doorpost of the El Al offices at Miami International Airport on Nov. 1, the day direct flights to Israel began.
Rabbi Lau hangs a mezuzah on the doorpost of the El Al offices at Miami International Airport on Nov. 1, the day direct flights to Israel began.

Lipskar notes that “it was very powerful.”

At 1 p.m., the first flight took off, headed in the opposite direction.

More than just the celebration itself—Lau will speak and participate in services—the flights remove a barrier for people wanting to visit Israel, adds Lipskar. With approximately 750,000 Jewish residents, Florida boasts the third-largest Jewish population in the United States after New York and California. “To now be able to jump on a flight and fly back overnight [from Israel] nonstop is a big deal,” says Lipskar, “especially for families and people with small children. It will definitely enhance the Jewish community’s connection to Israel and Judaism.”

Miami attorney David Drescher, 32, who plans to attend the morning services and Kiddush luncheon, agrees.

“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Rabbi Lau and going to some of the celebrations,” says Drescher, a regular at the shul. “The fact that El Al has chosen to partner with Chabad for this celebration is really fitting because I think that Chabad Houses are at the forefront of Israel advocacy, and helping to grow the connection between Diaspora Jewry and Israel.”

He and his wife, Ilana, met through the Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Student Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville. They usually try to make it to Israel every other year, and Dresher always looks forward to the flights.

‘A Diverse Gathering’

“It’s such a diverse gathering of so many different kinds of Jews,” says Drescher, who has two children under 3. “I don’t think there is a time where I have landed in Israel and people aren’t clapping. There’s a special energy I feel when I am looking out the window as we approach Israel. Getting that aerial view as the plane wraps around on its final descent is really indescribable.”

Despite that rush, he looks forward to the shorter rides. Drescher grew up in Florida and recalls when El Al used to offer direct flights from Miami to Israel. He now feels that “we are getting the service that the community really needs.”

David and Ilana Drescher, who regularly visit Israel, await the direct flights from Miami.
David and Ilana Drescher, who regularly visit Israel, await the direct flights from Miami.


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zalmy London england November 5, 2017

wow that was nice Reply

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