New York - El Al Says Photo Of Bag-Wearing Man 10 Years Old
New York - Two different accounts have emerged about an unverified photograph of a chareidi man sitting on an airplane covered in a full length plastic bag that took the internet by storm last week.
According to reports in The Gothamist, El Al media representative Sheryl Stein said that the picture, which surfaced last week, is not a recent one and may likely be a decade old.
“[A colleague] remembered this from at least ten years ago,” said Stein.
While many online comments have suggested that the man may have been a Kohein looking to avoid any possibility of contamination when flying over a cemetery, Stein said that the airline specifically rerouted its planes to avoid flying over cemeteries in order to accommodate Kohanim and that to the best of her knowledge the issue is no longer a problem.
Stein’s explanation runs counter to a story that appeared last week in the Israeli newspaper Yated Neeman as described by Israeli news source Kikar Hashabat.
According to the Yated, the story behind the widely circulated picture took place two weeks ago when two Israeli men from Bnei Brak, who were returning from a fundraising trip to London, missed their flight back to Israel on the Friday before Pesach. While they were able to get seats on the next available flight to Israel, the plane was rerouted to Cyprus after a farewell ceremony in honor of President Obama forced the closure of all Israeli airspace. The pair spent Shabbos in Cyprus where they subsisted on only bread and produce. Planning their return trip to Israel after Shabbos, just hours before the onset of Pesach, they discovered that all flights from Cyprus back to Tel Aviv flew over the Jewish cemetery in Holon, creating a problem for one of the men who was a Kohein. Turning to prominent Bnei Brak posek R’ Yitzchak Zilberstein, a son in law of Reb Eliashiv, for advice, the man was told to cover himself with a large plastic bag before the airplane passed over Ben Gurion Airport.
VIN News declined to publish the photograph when it began making the rounds on the internet last week due its lack of verification.
Another picture of a person draped in a plastic bag, this one a white Zaka bag with blue letters, also appeared on The Gothamist with no further information regarding when, or by whom, the photograph had been taken.
Despite its lack of verification, the photo created a flurry of activity on the internet, which Israeli news source Haaretz says first appeared on photo sharing site Imgur and was then linked to by an atheism board on Reddit where it garnered over 2,500 comments. Haaretz is reporting that the original photograph received one million views in just two days.
Over the past several days, despite its lack of authentication, the picture has made its way from the social media sites to the news sites including Britain’s The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, The Daily News, The Jewish Press and Israeli news sites Kikar HaShabbat and YNet News.
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