By: Shiryn Ghermezian | The Algemeiner | January 18, 2023
The Israeli airline carrier El Al announced that it has restarted a program that aims to teach people more about Israel and help them get closer to the Jewish state by hearing the personal stories of flight attendants, pilots and other top flight personnel from the country’s national carrier.
As part of the El Al Ambassadors program, relaunched in partnership with StandWithUs, El Al flight employees volunteer to use their layovers to visit and speak to people at university campuses, cultural and religious centers and public events.
Dimitriy Stepanov, a senior flight attendant with El Al who was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Israel, recently flew on El Al flights that transported Ukrainian refugees. Stepanov will share his personal story as part of the Ambassadors program.
“I am taking part in this program because I truly believe in its main goal, which is to show the beauty and diversity of Israel,” Stepanov told The Algemeiner. “I hope to change the way people see us Israelis; to see that it’s such a beautiful country with beautiful people. My story — just an ordinary Israeli with everyday Israeli experiences — is a reflection of dozens of other stories about people living in Israel, lives you would not hear about in your local media or on Instagram. Just the simple truth.”
Adam Rubin, a first officer in El Al for seven years who is also participating in the initiative, said: “I am proud to take part in this program because I want to share the story of our people and share the values and complexities that underpin our country. As someone who chose to make aliyah to Israel from Canada, it is a way to pay forward the dream that I have realized.”
The El Al Ambassadors program was first launched in 2011 and hundreds of thousands around the world have already attended meetups with El Al “ambassadors.” Limor Bozaglo, vice president of human resources at El Al, said the initiative is “a unique project in the Israeli landscape, with everything being done out of love for the country and with the voluntary efforts of everyone. Our volunteer ambassadors are doing no less sacred work, bringing hearts closer and changing the way Israel is viewed.”
“With the world readjusting post-pandemic and tourism to Israel soaring again, this program represents another way for people to get closer to Israel,” said StandWithUs. “The idea is for audiences far and wide to see Israel through the eyes of its people: the diverse faces of EL AL, who represent Israelis from all different backgrounds and walks of life. This is a chance for people to meet real Israelis with incredible life stories who represent the welcoming face of our open society. The ambassadors … take pride in making a difference and representing their country.”