A view of the Charles River with the Boston skyline in the background.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BOSTON – How do you say Boston at El Al? With baseballs, cake, champagne and a Torah scroll.
So it was early Sunday morning, with a red-ribbon ceremony at the gate, when El Al launched its first-ever direct flight from Israel to Boston.
It is El Al’s fourth such route to North America and the third to the US. Israel’s national carrier already runs nonstop flights to Los Angeles, the New York and New Jersey area and Toronto.
El Al CEO and president David Maimon told the passengers and dignitaries that expanding its North America operation was of strategic value to his airline. It answers a need for both business travelers and tourists, he said.
“With the opening of this line, we believe Boston will become a popular tourist destination for Israeli families,” Maimon said.
To show that the US was as invested in strengthening these ties as Israel, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro was on hand to great the passengers.
It was a sign of the “friendship between the US and Israel,” he said.
Shapiro thanked Boston’s businesses, Jewish community and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who along with El Al helped establish the route.
“It will make more than just the links between Israel and Boston possible, as wonderful as Boston is with its history and science and technology and baseball and fall foliage,” he said.
“With the co-chairing arrangement launched last November between El Al and another American airline, Jet Blue, which uses Boston as a major hub, Israeli travelers will get to reach many other parts of the US and even beyond the US and Latin America,” Shapiro said. “Many more Americans will fly on the return route through Boston on their way to Israel.”
The passengers would fly on a Boeing 767, he said, adding that Boeing has had a long history of friendship with Israel and El Al.
Shapiro, who is a graduate of Brandeis University in Massachusetts, said he wished the passengers “safe travels” and added: “I look forward to joining you on one of these flights soon.”
El Al’s head of religious services Rabbi Yohanan Hayut held a small Torah scroll and uttered a blessing. He was joined by Rabbi Yitzhak David Grossman. The two also blessed the passengers as they boarded the plane.
A picture of Boston’s Fenway Park, where the Red Sox baseball team plays, adorned the white-frosted cake at the ceremony.
Passengers were handed a baseball with the words “Maiden flight to Boston” as they walked through the gate.
Once on board, stewards and stewardesses handed out champagne.
Tovah Lazaroff was a guest of El Al for the flight.