To the skies! That’s what EL AL means in English, and some 5.5 million passengers worldwide embrace the concept every year, jetting to 34 direct flight destinations on six continents.
One of the airline’s happy, and obsessed, customers is Marvin G. Goldman, a retired New York City attorney once dubbed EL AL’s “biggest fan” by Business Traveler magazine. Goldman has amassed a collection of more than 40,000 pieces of EL AL memorabilia — much of it is on display in a single room of his Manhattan apartment — and he is the author of two airline-related books, “EL AL: Star in the Sky” (World Transport Press, 1990) and “EL AL: Israel’s Flying Star” (Airways International, 2008).
“I can’t remember a specific incident that got me started, other than that I wanted souvenirs of my first EL AL flight and picked up some postcards,” he said. “I do believe that some people are collectors and others thrower-outers.
“I’m a collector.”
Goldman will be speaking about “EL AL: Israel’s Lifeline to the World” at Monroe Township Senior Center on April 22 for an event sponsored by Hadassah Associates and the Alisa and Monroe Township chapters of Hadassah.
Goldman was 9 years old in 1948 when the airline, which is the same age as the country it serves, made its inaugural flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv. “There’s a story that goes with that,” he told NJJN in a phone interview.
Chaim Weizmann was first president of the nascent state and needed a flight home from his diplomatic mission in Switzerland, Goldman said. At the time, Israel only had military planes which were not permitted within the Swiss borders.
“Israel quickly converted a Skymaster DC-4 military transport into a civilian plane,” he said. “They called that plane ‘Rechovot’ in honor of the town where Weizmann lived.”
Thirty years later, Goldman took his own inaugural flight on EL AL and became enthralled with the airline. Overall, he estimates he has taken more than 100 EL AL flights, and he recently completed nine new chapters for “EL AL: Israel’s Flying Star.”
Among his copious collection of uniforms, pens, posters, pins, and more, Goldman has some favorite items such as the insignia that adorned the hat worn by the first uniformed EL AL captain. “That’s a rare item,” he said. “I also have posters created by Franz Krausz, a well-known German-born graphic designer, and uniforms with a space-age look that date back to the late 1960s.”
Goldman was born and raised in Los Angeles and earned a bachelor’s and law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. He and his wife, Marilyn, have three children and four grandchildren.
During his appearance at the Monroe Township Senior Center, Goldman will show off some items from his collection and present a visual history of the airline, replete with vintage photos and highlights of ELAL’s first seven decades.
Special guests invited to the annual Hadassah Associates event include N.J. Sen. Linda R. Greenstein (D-Dist. 14), Monroe Township Mayor Gerald W. Tamburro, and a representative from the Consulate of Israel.
Attendees will share in a large birthday cake for the airline decorated in blue and white, and EL AL will supply free souvenirs and drawings for EL AL posters and other items.