This captivating love story of Abraham Elazar (may his memory be blessed) and Shirley Elazar, seems like it was plotted for a series, but it is a reality for one Israeli family. Both Elazar and Shirley were dedicated employees of El Al airlines, whose lives converged at the vibrant Jerusalem March in the 1960s. Abraham, an immigrant from Bulgaria, and Shirley, hailing from Pakistan, found love at first sight amid the colorful parade, a fateful encounter that led to a lifelong journey filled with adventure, travel, and family togetherness. Their tale took an unexpected turn when they moved to Istanbul in 1978, where Abraham managed El Al’s operations at the airport. Tragedy struck in 1980, when Elazar was killed by terrorists, but their love endured above and beyond. Now, their children, Jacky and Liat, continue their El Al legacy, joining the Jerusalem March for the first time this year, completing a circle of love and dedication that transcends borders and generations. Their story is a heartwarming testament to the enduring power of love.
The full detailed story:
Abraham Elazar immigrated to Israel in the 1950s from Bulgaria with his family and settled in Holon. Over time, Abraham joined various positions at El Al, and in 1978, he was sent to manage the El Al station in Istanbul. His wife, Shirley Elazar, came to Israel in the late 1950s with her family from Pakistan, and they settled in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. Shirley started working for El Al in the 1960s due to her proficiency in English.
Abraham and Shirley, as El Al employees, both joined the Jerusalem March and marched together without recognizing each other. When the organizers of the March approached Shirley and asked her to ride a camel at the front of the group during the march, they couldn’t have imagined that a love story would unfold here.
Abraham saw Shirley on the camel at the head of the group and fell in love, and the rest is history. They got married in 1964 and had two children, Jacky and Liat (the second generation at El Al).
In 1978, Abraham and Shirley, along with their children Jacky and Liat, flew to live in Istanbul, where Abraham managed the El Al station at the airport. Life was always beautiful for them. Jacky describes the period: «Suddenly, we were together with Mom and Dad at home, we traveled a lot. I remember that time as a warm and interesting period. We had both parents with us all the time. They didn’t work in shifts, and in general, we loved the time in Istanbul.»
In December 1979, they flew back to Israel for a vacation, leaving their father in Istanbul. On January 1, 1980, they heard in the news in Israel that there had been an attack near the Istanbul airport. Their father was on duty and went to the airport to arrange a flight to Israel, but he didn’t know that he was being followed by four terrorists from Fatah (the largest faction within the PLO, Palestinian Liberation Organization). As soon as he left the airport, the terrorists followed him and shot at his car while he was driving. He was 41 years old when he died.
From the moment they heard the news, it was very difficult for them. Their dream shattered all at once, and they returned to Israel permanently. Their mother continued to work at El Al until the age of 70 when she retired. She never remarried and never wanted another relationship. Jacky believes that their love was always evident, and she never allowed herself to connect with another man.
Jacky and his sister Liat are the second generation in the El Al family, and they knew from their release from the military that they were destined to be part of El Al, and so it happened. Both hold prominent roles.
This year, for the first time, Jacky and Liat will complete the circle when they join the Jerusalem March for the first time.