Some 22,000 Hasidim have embarked on the pilgrimage to Rabbi Nachman's grave in the city of Uman on 120 different flights operated by Israeli and foreign airlines.
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El Al's chief purser issued his own memo to the air crews, reminding them to thoroughly examine the credit cards used by the Hasidic pilgrims, not to leave their bags in the luggage compartments and to lock their cellular phones in the cockpit to avoid theft, which is said to be common on these flights.
In his appeal to the Breslov Hasidim, Rabbi Yohanan Hayut, director of El Al's religious services division, notes that the company is glad to have them on its plane and asks them to obey the air crew's safety instructions in order to allow an enjoyable flight for everyone.
The rabbi clarifies that passengers must not change seats during the flight, "protect the plane's property and avoid damaging or destroying it," and that smoking in or near the plane is strictly forbidden.
"Smoking anywhere in the plane, including the lavatory, is extremely dangerous. Anyone who fails to obey this order will be punished accordingly."
Rabbi Hayut provided details on the kosher food served on the plane, and noted that any movie screened during the flight will be a nature film examined by a rabbis' committee, without any sight or voice of a woman.
Special Duty Free for haredim
El Al's chief purser, Nimrod Demajo, noted in his memo that a special Duty Free booklet had been issued for the flights to Uman, with 40 products known to be popular among ultra-Orthodox passengers.
"Please pay attention," Demajo wrote. "El Al flights are known as flights in which many attempts are made to use fake credit cards, so make sure that the money is collected according to procedures."
A senior El Al crewmember told Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday that every single steward tries to avoid serving on flights to Uman, which include male flight attendants only.
"People have no respect for the property and crew. They smoke freely during the flight and walk up and down the plane even when it's forbidden. For many of them it's the first time they fly, and they don't know how to behave on a plane. In some incidents, they even got into real brawls with the crew."
Monday saw flights to Uman, through Odessa or Kiev, delayed by two to 13 hours. A source in one of the airlines explained that many of the passengers get held up at the Duty Free stores, ignoring calls to board the plane and causing delays in departure.
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