El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy 311.
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
El Al pilots and flight personnel will soon offer more than just the choice of
either chicken or beef.
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The Israeli airliner’s employees will take part
in talks and host meetings about Israel at Jewish Community Centers, federations
and university campuses throughout North America as part of a new initiative
launched last Wednesday.
“We’re going to be presenting the Israel we know
and love – a diverse and open society with a thriving democracy, an exceptional
culture of warmth and innovation and one of the world’s most robust economies,”
said Alon Futterman, the Jewish Agency’s shlichut (emissary) development
director and director of the El Al Ambassadors program.
“This project is
so unique because of the people-to-people aspect. We believe we need to use our
most engaging, interesting and worldly people to share the incredible story of
modern Israel and, once again, connect with Jews around the world. We need to
empower Diaspora Jews as our advocates at the grassroots level, and who better
to inspire them than Israel’s top pilots and El Al?”
Participants in the
project, which is the brainchild of El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy, will undergo a
three-month course training them in public speaking and current affairs. The
program is a joint venture with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Foreign
Ministry and StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy group.
Israel’s flag carrier
was founded in 1948 shortly after the country gained independence. For decades
it had been owned by the government, which still has a minority share in the
The pilot program will be held in Toronto, Los
Angeles and New York during the airline staff’s downtime. Organizers said
participation in the program is voluntary and will be “apolitical.”