A group of prominent Boro Park dayanim and Misaskim representatives had a face to face meeting with a senior El Al executive on Monday to discuss a serious problem that arose last week for kohanim and to ensure that concrete steps are being taken to prevent future recurrences.
Misaskim arranged the meeting between El Al Vice President for North and Central America Yoram Elgrabli and the Karlsburger Rebbe, Rav Yechezkel Roth, the Debrecziner Rebbe, Rav Moshe Stern, Rav Herschel Ausch and Rav Moshe Roth in Boro Park in light of the December 16th discovery that aronos were no longer being placed in special boxes that prevented issues of tumah for kohanim on JFK flights. That revelation prompted Rav Yechezkel Roth to retract a previously given heter allowing kohanim to travel on flights that were carrying niftarim to Eretz Yisroel.
While the immediate issue was resolved within 24 hours and was determined to have been caused by a shortage of the special boxes at JFK Airport and not a change in El Al policy, the senior rabbonim spoke with Elgrabi in Boro Park to further discuss the matter and the many intricate halachic details involved. Elgrabli assured the group that El Al has instituted a new policy in its cargo division requiring niftarim to be flown only in the special boxes, with a supply of extra boxes stored nearby in Misaskim’s Boro Park warehouse to prevent any further shortages. Going forward, El Al will no longer transport any aronos without the special boxes and steps have already been taken to ensure that the same measures are being taken in Miami, Los Angeles, Paris and London, while continuing the airline’s policy of not flying niftarim out of Newark.
“There were many shaylos asked at the meeting to guarantee that this mistake won’t happen again,” said Rabbi Yanky Meyer, founder and director of Misaskim. “The rabbonim left feeling confident that El Al was taking the necessary steps to halachically allow kohanim to travel on those flights and we are grateful to the airline for treating this matter with the seriousness it deserves.”