Published On: Thu, Oct 20th, 2016

Ultra-Orthodox: Kohanim Flying Out of Israel Must Fly Through Haifa

Construction at Ben Gurion Airport will divert departing flight paths to over Holon cemetery; rabbis suggest flying from Haifa to Cyprus then on to the final destination.

Jewish Ultra-Orthodox kohen wraps himself in plastic to prevent from becoming unpure as he flies over a cemetary (Photo New York Daily News)

Ultra-Orthodox members of the kohen priestly class will need to find other ways to fly out of Israel that Ben Gurion Airport for the first two weeks of November, according to the Chief Lithuanian Religious Courts.

This is because the flight paths for all airplanes departing from of Israel during that time period will pass above the Holon cemetery. The kohen priestly class is not allowed to be exposed to the corpses of the dead, including travelling through areas where there are graves.

Jewish law holds that a grave includes all that is above it—including airspace—thereby rendering the kohen “unclean” even if they fly over the grave in an airplane.

The Chief Lithuanian Religious Courts have therefore determined that if one must fly out of Israel during those dates, they should take a flight from Haifa to Cyprus, and fly from Cyprus onwards to their destinations.

The flight paths will be changed due to construction to strengthen one of the runways at Ben Gurion International Airport.

A religious decree put out by Rabbi Nissim Karlitz said that “we have received information that starting from 5:00 am on November 1, 2016, until November 17, 2016, all flights leaving from Ben Gurion Airport to all destinations will fly over the Holon cemetery.

“Incoming flights will not be on this flight path. Kohanim who wish to travel abroad during these dates may fly out of the airport in Haifa to Cyprus, and on to their next destinations.”

The Israel Airports Authority said that “the announcement regarding work on the runway was sent to all of the authorities of the various communities around Ben Gurion Airport and the various airlines. The Israel Airports Authority has not received any additional requests for information.”

By Itay Blumental and Kobi Nahshoni: Ultra-Orthodox: Kohanim flying out of Israel must fly through Haifa

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