The Flying Torah (updated)

Thomas Lifson
The Arab airlines on which I have flown have all had copies of the Quran available for passengers in both Arabic and English. But Israel's "second "airline, Israir, a smaller competitor for the much larger and older El Al, has topped both its Israeli and Arab counterparts when it comes to religious texts. From Flight International:
In a new twist to in-flight entertainment offerings, Israir Airlines has installed a Torah - a scroll of Jewish laws - on a Boeing 767-300ER.

The Israeli carrier says in a statement that it has become "the first airline to maintain an authentic Torah Scroll on board its aircraft".

The "Sky-Torah" was completed last week by a specially trained scribe in Florida and installed on Israir's lone 767. Israir had a special ceremony at New York's JFK airport to welcome the torah "with singing, dancing, live music and important Rabbis and dignitaries in attendance".
A Torah is a hand-scribed scroll, rather bulky and heavy, that is normally brought out for Sabbath services. Israir apparently intends their airborne Torah to enhance the atmosphere for devout Orthodox Jewish passengers flying between New York and Tel Aviv, where it competes head-to-head with El Al. In recent times, El Al has had testy relations with the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel over its desire to run flights on the Sabbath. It is unheard of for any other airline to idle its expensive fleet of aircraft for one seventh of the year.

Israir, incidentally, already runs flights on the Sabbath. So, this may be something of an insurance policy to insulate it from criticism by the religious community, said to account for one quarter of the traffic between the United States and Israel.

Update: Hillel Markowitz writes:

First, the Torah is read as part of morning services on Monday and Thursday. As a result, since flights from New York to Israel often arrive later in the morning, the Torah scroll can be used for morning services on the flight.


Second, the fact that Israir has flights on the Sabbath means that they cannot be trusted to maintain the Torah scroll properly. Any use of it on the Sabbath would be incorrect and inappropriate. If they are using it as an amulet, then it is a superstitious use that is forbidden by Jewish law.

The Arab airlines on which I have flown have all had copies of the Quran available for passengers in both Arabic and English. But Israel's "second "airline, Israir, a smaller competitor for the much larger and older El Al, has topped both its Israeli and Arab counterparts when it comes to religious texts. From Flight International:
In a new twist to in-flight entertainment offerings, Israir Airlines has installed a Torah - a scroll of Jewish laws - on a Boeing 767-300ER.

The Israeli carrier says in a statement that it has become "the first airline to maintain an authentic Torah Scroll on board its aircraft".

The "Sky-Torah" was completed last week by a specially trained scribe in Florida and installed on Israir's lone 767. Israir had a special ceremony at New York's JFK airport to welcome the torah "with singing, dancing, live music and important Rabbis and dignitaries in attendance".
A Torah is a hand-scribed scroll, rather bulky and heavy, that is normally brought out for Sabbath services. Israir apparently intends their airborne Torah to enhance the atmosphere for devout Orthodox Jewish passengers flying between New York and Tel Aviv, where it competes head-to-head with El Al. In recent times, El Al has had testy relations with the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel over its desire to run flights on the Sabbath. It is unheard of for any other airline to idle its expensive fleet of aircraft for one seventh of the year.

Israir, incidentally, already runs flights on the Sabbath. So, this may be something of an insurance policy to insulate it from criticism by the religious community, said to account for one quarter of the traffic between the United States and Israel.

Update: Hillel Markowitz writes:

First, the Torah is read as part of morning services on Monday and Thursday. As a result, since flights from New York to Israel often arrive later in the morning, the Torah scroll can be used for morning services on the flight.


Second, the fact that Israir has flights on the Sabbath means that they cannot be trusted to maintain the Torah scroll properly. Any use of it on the Sabbath would be incorrect and inappropriate. If they are using it as an amulet, then it is a superstitious use that is forbidden by Jewish law.