Passengers traveling on El Al flights in recent days were surprised to hear the plane's sound system playing Tefilat Haderech – a Jewish prayer recited upon embarking on a journey – both as the passengers entered the plane and at the start of take-off, instead of the regular background music.
"What’s happening here is simply astonishing," a company employee told Ynet, "About two years ago they hung a sign with Tefilat Haderech at the entrance to the plane. Passengers ignored it because one hardly notices it. But now we have been receiving complaints both from the air crews and from passengers. The company has quite a few non-Jewish workers, and it's definitely unpleasant."
A non-Jewish passenger told Yedioth Ahronoth that during the Christmas season, American airlines welcome their passengers with "Season's Greetings" in order to show respect to non-Christian passengers as well.
After receiving several complaints, the El Al management looked into the matter and found out that the Tefilat Haderech was initiated independently by the company's rabbi, Yohanan Hayout. He and the worker who added the prayer to the sound system were summoned and rebuked.
El Al offered the following comment: "Tefilat Haderech is not part of the regular broadcasts on the company's flights, and it will be removed by the weekend."