UPDATE: A more recent piece in Tablet reports that some of the assertions in the sources of this article may be incorrect, including the claim that the Haredim were physically and/or verbally abusive to the El Al staff, that the passengers knew the plane was flying to Tel Aviv rather than returning to the gates, and so on. Further, the videos in this piece appear to have been doctored. See my more recent report for a correction.
A regular feature of this site are reports of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish men refusing to sit next to women, often involving kerfuffles and lawsuits. The lawsuits have been successful, and this is one example of how religious customs that interfere with secular regulations should be put aside, especially during airline flights.
Now, however, according to the Times of Israel (click on screenshot below), there’s another version of the Flying Jew Tsouris:
Two El Al airliners took off from New York last Thursday, bound for Israel. Both, however, were late because of dire weather conditions, which got the Haredim very anxious, for Jewish law dictates that you can’t travel in cars and airplanes on the Sabbath, which happens to start at sundown on Friday. The Haredim got aggressive, either yelling at or even hitting flight attendants, accusing the airlines of lying to them, and demanding to disembark after the plane was already on the runway. The two videos below show the anxiety in the flying Haredim:
Amazingly, one of the planes actually landed in Athens to let the Haredim disembark so that Yahweh wouldn’t be mad at them, and the other was going to divert to Rome, but continued on instead to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv because of the medical condition of one woman on the flight—a woman who needed to get to Israel.
I’m amazed that El Al actually diverted one of its flights to allow its Orthodox passengers to disembark, which was nice of them (although an annoyance for the passengers whose God didn’t mind them flying), and almost diverted the other flight. But it’s simply ridiculous that this happened in the first place. If the Haredim in New York thought that the delay would put them in the air on Friday sundown, they didn’t have to get on the flight (note: some of them claim that El Al assured them they’d get to Israel before sundown).
The truth here may be a bit hazy, but surely a decent G-d would forgive a Jew flying on the Sabbath if it resulted from a snowstorm. After all, G-d made the snowstorm—and could have stopped it! The Haredim need to chill.
h/t: Mole at the counter