Airlines’ strike grounds local kids in Israel

Airlines’ strike grounds local kids in Israel

For Hebrew Academy, labor dispute means extra beach time

Students from Hebrew Academy of Morris County in Randolph were grounded in Israel when three Israeli airlines went on strike Sunday morning.

Their flight, scheduled to depart Israel late Sunday night, April 21, was canceled, along with all other El Al flights.

The group of eight eighth-graders had been in Israel for two weeks on the annual HAMC trip. With them in Israel were head of school Moshe Vaknin and teacher Luiza Finberg.

The students were able to stay outside of Tel Aviv in a home owned by one of the school’s families, said Cheryl Behar, HAMC dean of general studies.

“Like everyone else, we were a little disrupted by the strike,” she said. “They got to stay in Israel a few more days. What’s so bad about that?” she quipped. “They’re hanging out on the beach, having bonfires. They’re thrilled.”

The two-day strike ended Monday, and the students’ flight was rebooked. At press time, the students were expected home Wednesday afternoon.

The strike came after Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday approved an “open skies” agreement with the European Union. It would allow European airlines to increase their flights to Israel for five years, which could substantially decrease the costs of airline tickets for Israeli travelers to Europe.

The Histadrut, Israel’s main labor union, says the deal could mean thousands of layoffs by the three airlines.

The strike ended when El Al and the Finance Ministry reached an agreement on security issues, the costs of which put Israeli carriers at an unfair disadvantage, El Al had maintained.

Local reporting by NJJN staff writer Johanna Ginsberg

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