Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

A Kohein’s Unexpected Travel Adventure

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

For 16 days in November — due to runway repair work at Ben-Gurion Airport — all flights would be flying over Holon Cemetery, a problem for Kohanim. Would I cancel my trip?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

 Mishpacha image

Photo: Shutterstock

For most people, flying to and from Israel entails contacting a travel agent, checking times and prices, and booking a flight. For Kohanim, however, the situation is very different. We need to know which airlines and routes routinely carry meisim, and make sure to avoid them. Flying over cemeteries is another potential problem, but fortunately it rarely arises.

With a family wedding coming up, my wife and I booked a round-trip flight to Newark for shortly after Succos. But our plans were unexpectedly derailed when my son forwarded me a news item on Erev Succos: for 16 days in November — due to runway repair work at Ben-Gurion Airport — all flights would be flying over Holon Cemetery, a problem for Kohanim.

Skeptical at first, I contacted several rabbanim on top of these matters. Each confirmed it was a serious problem. To be on the safe side, I e-mailed my travel agent, though I was confident the situation would be straightened out long before it became germane to me. But when Succos went by, the issue was by no means resolved; the flight route remained unchanged and the best El Al would do was offer to refund my ticket (not my wife’s — she’s not a Kohein).

Should I cancel my trip? My wife could attend the wedding alone, but what about our vacation plans? Postpone the trip by two months and miss the wedding? We’d lose the price of my wife’s ticket. My travel agent suggested sealing myself in a plastic bag after takeoff until the plane passed the cemetery. The rabbanim I consulted agreed with me that this heter didn’t work; better to avoid flying altogether.

The other choice was flying out of Israel from Haifa, which has daily flights to Cyprus, or from Eilat, which has flights to other European cities. The Haifa option involved no fewer than four flights to reach the US, including an overnight stopover in Cyprus and two one-hour layovers in Athens and Frankfurt, which seemed far too risky.

With my ticket refunded, my ever-resourceful son spent a few hours online and came up with a few decent connections, leaving from Haifa and flying discount airlines my travel agent had never even heard of. The flights were one-way and nonrefundable, but the connections were doable. The trip would take close to 30 hours, but…

I took a deep breath, handed over my locus of control (i.e., credit card), and booked the flights... (excerpted)

Related Stories

Oneg Shabbos: Court of Appeal

Yeruchem Yitzchak Landesman

In his dream, he saw himself ailing and weak, while the news spread throughout the city that the Rav...

On Site: An Empty Vessel Makes the Best Sound

Margie Pensak

He started out as a hard rocker, but these days Z.Z. Ludwick is playing to the tune of Rebbe Nachman...

Encounter: The Giving Trees

Maayan David

Chemist and plant researcher Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, president of the island nation of Mauritius, i...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War.
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchak Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript.
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child.
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
Zivia Reischer and D. Himy "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"